Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Bang Your Head! Crass Class 101 Begins Now

Welcome to 2013! As promised, with the new year comes a new format for The Vintage Warrior. This blog here will be a template for how I plan to structure things moving forward. Posts will be longer and more time-consuming for you (the reader), however my goal is that when you leave the blog you will leave satisfied. The best way I know to satisfy thirsty readers is to flood you with good information. Class is getting ready to start, my faithful. Pull up a chair, get yourself a stiff drink and smoke 'em if you got 'em. Its time to bang your head in the new year, as Crass Class 101 starts now.

Thrash 'Til Death 
1990 Mini-Documentary

This is the best documentary I've come across about thrash and death metal scene that formed in the early 1980's in Tampa, FL. It features a lot of in-depth interviews with members of all your favorite Florida metal bands, including Iced EarthDeath, Obituary, Morbid Angel and more. There's a lot of little nuggets of greatness found in this mini-doc, one of them being the sour grapes thrown back and forth between Chuck Schuldiner (R.I.P.) and some of his former Death band-mates. Another cool thing about this doc is that they interview Scott Burns from the infamous Morrisound Recording Studio, which was the main destination for death metal bands in the 1980's and 1990's. Even bands from the UK (such as Cancer and Napalm Death) make an appearance.

The documentary outlines how many of the bands used to practice (at self-storage units), the problems with local venues and what day-to-day life was like for a bunch of metalheads in the Sunshine State back in the glory days of metal. 

The thing I really enjoy about this documentary is that it shows all of these bands at their peak, before they all got old and had families, mortgages and day-jobs to worry about. It's fun to see them all in the early 20's, before the real world interfered with their metal too much. This is a very fun documentary and well worth the half hour of your time. There's more interview than there is music, so even if you never got into the death metal scene this is still an informative and entertaining view.

Grindcore: 85 Minutes of Brutal Heavy Metal
1993 Documentary

Don't let the title or the length of the documentary turn you off from giving this a view. This one is just as good as Thrash Til Death, but it focuses on the UK and Scandinavian bands that were forming in response to various influences (the Tampa, FL scene and German metal scenes being prime examples).

This documentary is basically an Earache Records documentary, as it focuses almost exclusively Earache bands. Napalm Death, Godflesh, Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower, Entombed and Carcass all get interviewed, along with a few other bands from various labels and genres. I'm not sure why this was called a grindcore documentary, as they focus on almost every form of extreme metal. What makes this one special is that it really shows some of the subtle differences between the European and US metal scenes, and gives you another peak into their world.

Another cool thing about this documentary is that they interview Digby Pearson, the guy who started Earache Records and the man responsible for exposing Napalm Death to the world. There's also an extremely pretentious interview with Dave Vincent from Morbid Angel, proving once again that eloquent well-spoken death metal dudes can still be complete asshats. Also, the vocalist from Paradise Lost (Nick Holmes) proves what a poser he was by saying how hard it is to growl. The interview with Bolt Thrower is interesting as well. I never knew they were so closely tied to the gaming community, as their album Realm of Chaos tied in with the roleplaying game of the same name. Definitely give this one a watch, it's worth the hour.

Napalm Death: The Scum Story
2007 Documentary

This is a rather new addition to Youtube, but I'm glad it was put there because this is another fascinating peak into the world of underground metal. Napalm Death is referred to as one of the first grindcore bands to come around, and this documentary fully details all the ins and outs of how they recorded their first album, Scum.

One fun thing to take note of in this video are the interviews with Mick Harris (ex-Napalm Death) and Digby Pearson (of Earache Records). They both appear extensively throughout the Grindcore documentary listed before this one, so its funny to see how they've aged from 1993 to 2007. They both look quite different!

This documentary is also kinda sad in a way, as it mainly features Mick Harris walking around to various shabby locales around Birmingham, England, reminiscing about the early punk and hardcore scenes and how they eventually mixed together to form grindcore. It also shows Mick Harris playing drums for the first time in over 10 years, and he's clearly embarrassed by his output (going so far as to claim "I definitely need to practice again"). 

When it comes to Napalm Death, there's only so much of them I can take. However, this documentary is a fun watch. Its more interview than it is music, so you can rest easy there.

Who Controls Morbid Angel, Dave or Trey?
1995/1996 Interview Mash-up

Its almost impossible to talk about death metal these days without bringing up Morbid Angel's extremely divisive 2011 release Illud Divinum Insanus, an album with insanely dull and cold production with industrial elements peppered throughout. Morbid Angel fans nearly shat blood for a month upon hearing this album, as Youtube is absolutely flooded with anti-Illud reviews and mockumentaries. I happen to not mind Illud Divinum Insanus all that much, as I've been a fan of death metal and industrial music for the past 15 years. To me, its not that much of stretch from the last album recorded with Dave Vincent (1995's Domination), but I can see how hardcore death-heads would overreact to such an album. 

One of the anti-Illud videos can be seen above, which is a composite of interviews with Dave Vincent and Trey Azagthoth from 1995/1996. The point of the video is to show how different Dave and Trey are from each other, both of whom had completely different views and thoughts for the band and their last creative effort together (Domination). Dave Vincent left Morbid Angel in 1996 to join his wife's industrial band Genitorturers. Knowing that, "who controls Morbid Angel" is a fair question to bring up regarding their most recent album and what their next step will be, now that Dave Vincent is back in the band and writing Morbid Angel music again. Interestingly enough, the album was so poorly received from the metal crowd that Morbid Angel only plays 2 songs from it live, and they're two of the metal tracks. Go figure.

Death Metal Special
1993 Documentary - Part 1 of 8

This documentary is on par with Thrash Til Death, as it features cool interviews with the Tampa FL. death metal people, including producer Scott Burns, Death, Cannibal Corpse, Sepultura, Atheist, Morbid Angel and more. Most of what's talked about here is covered in Thrash Til Death, but there's still some standout material, such as Scott Burns being pissed off about a sports game (hockey?), Chris Barnes from Cannibal Corpse looking spaced out the whole time and Dave Vincent of Morbid Angel being his usual pompous self.

The one thing I like about this one is that they go a little bit more in-depth with how the record label side of things worked for a lot of the bands. At one point, Kelly Schaefer of Atheist claims that some death metal bands were selling hundreds of thousands of copies of their albums, while smaller bands like his were selling around 10,000-30,000 copies during the heyday. All things considered, that's not too shabby for an underground band to achieve.

Unfortunately, Death Metal Special is split up into 8 parts, with the average length of each segment being between 2 and 6 minutes. If the video linked above doesn't automatically take you to the other parts after viewing, you can get to them here if interested. I recommend that you do.

2008 Cannibal Corpse Interview 
regarding their appearance in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

This is a must-watch, for obvious reasons. This is a clip taken from Cannibal Corpse's 2008 Centuries of Torment DVD, and they interview Chris Barnes (now of the band Six Feet Under) and the rest of the original members about meeting Jim Carrey and being amazed that he was a fan of theirs. It's always been kind of funny to me that Jim Carrey is (or at least was) a Cannibal Corpse fan. I wonder what else he listens to?

This also features some footage with Brian Slagel, founder of Metal Blade Records. He talks about how he was worried about Cannibal Corpse coming across as a joke in the movie, but wound up being pleasantly surprised alongside the band. 

2012 Interview with Chris Barnes of Six Feet Under (ex-Cannibal Corpse)
about his views on marijuana

And here's one more from the mind of Chris Barnes, former front-man of Cannibal Corpse and current Six Feet Under growler. This video is an interview with Barnes about his thoughts and beliefs on marijuana. Within the first 10 seconds, you will claim "Chris Barnes has smoked himself retarded." This guy has some of the most ridiculous viewpoints about marijuana, going so far as to claim that marijuana is not only "a celestial gift" from a higher power (or aliens), but that it might actually cure cancer. The scary thing is that you can tell he is NOT joking about any of it. If you took Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg and told them to bring their finest stash....something tells me whatever they have doesn't even compare to the stuff Barnes is smoking! 

Red Chord bassist Greg Weeks goes undercover (as an indie rock guy)
Maryland Deathfest 2008

This final video is hilarious, at least to me. Its the perfect way to close out a blog about a bunch of guys who might act a bit too seriously sometimes, and need some hilarity to ensue. This is a fun video because it shows the honesty of metal fans. Jokes are made about all the black t-shirts in the crowd, how almost every band logo is unreadable and you might even see a badass jean jacket or two. 

Everyone who gets mock-interviewed is fairly cordial, even though Greg Weeks (of Red Chord) acts like a bit of a nerd throughout the whole thing (which I'm sure was the point). There's a few drunk metal chicks that he talks to, which is pretty entertaining...especially when Drunk Bitch #3 says that she wants to take a dump on Fred Durst's face. It almost makes me glad I never wound up with a metalhead chick, as I believe I would get sick and tired of the "slutty crass metalbitch" routine after a while.

This brings us to the end of Crass Class 101. I hope you learned something, or at the very least found a new band or two to check out. One of the bands I re-discovered from these videos is Nocturnus, an early Tampa FL death metal band that mixed sci-fi lyrics with cosmic-sounding keyboards over brutal death metal. They only released 2 albums back in the day, but I've been digging on both albums recently. Your homework is to listen to the track below and give me your thoughts. If you can tell me the names of the two planets featured on the album cover, you get a gold star.

Until next time, take us to recess boys...

Nocturnus - "Climate Controller"
from Thresholds (1992) Earache Records

4 comments:

  1. Going for the gold star one planet is called Aquaticus ruled by an evil race of sea creatures or something and the other is The Grid Zone kind of like Cybertron and the Deathstar combined , love the album I,ll have to get both of them. is there any good compilations of early 90s Florida Metal out there? Something with a bunch of different bands on it

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    1. I could very easily give you a playlist of sorts to start getting into. There's tons of comps out there but they of course vary. Let me see what I can put together for ya.

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    2. Sweet when I was way down south digging in flea markets and garage sales I saw a bunch of small label metal stuff I never picked much up I was looking for old psycadelic stuff and soul stuff , but a lot of it was from Florida I remember talking to the record dude working at Monster music in Charleston and he Said the metal scene down there was real big at one time particularly thrash metal.

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    3. Yeah, many would say death metal as we know it was created in Tampa, FL. The scene there was huge (a playlist blog is forthcoming), and it was even bigger in the surrounding states like Texas and Georgia.

      Its totally dead now, but a lot of the classic bands still live in that area.

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