We’re Scanning the Scene in the City Tonight: A Long, Convoluted Thing About Seeing Metallica Live at the KFC Yum! Center on 03/09/2019

My Metallica Weekend has come and gone, and I still find myself getting giddy and emotional when I think back on the show, but the day wasn’t all harvesters of sorrow, creeping deaths, and lepers messiah, friends. For a day that started out so great, and had so much potential, things got extremely fucking terrible for a while. However, through  sheer force of will (along with some help from Metallica, as well as the wonderful bartending and kitchen staff at Bluegrass Brewing Company), the night ended up being pretty damn perfect. Here’s my rundown…

A quick origin story to set the stage for the extremely fucking terrible part of the day: two months ago, we tried to book a hotel room for the night, only to find insane rates everywhere we looked (within walking distance, anyway – we could’ve stayed 10 miles away from the venue for a decent price, but we wanted to have the option of walking to the show, weather permitting). We later found out that in addition to Metallica, John “Johnny “The Coug” Cougar” Mellencamp was playing in town, and on top of that, our usual downtown Louisville hotel destination is in the process of being remodeled, so they have fewer rooms available than usual. Long story short, we decided, with much hesitation, to give Airbnb a shot.

Both of us had been wary of using the service, mostly because of the lack of accountability it provides, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and we found a listing that was just blocks from the venue. It was not cheap at all, but it was cheaper than any hotel in the area, and it was an entire loft apartment. I booked it, and we were go – approximately one year after Mrs. Stay Heavy purchased the tickets (as an early birthday gift for me), it was all finally starting to seem real.

We left town around 11:00 AM and drove straight to the New Albanian Brewing Company Pizzeria and Public House for delicious pizza and excellent craft beers (all very affordable, as well – do look them up if you’re in that area!), arriving there around 1:30. I contacted our Airbnb hosts and indicated that we were in New Albany, and that I would call them when we were leaving, as Google Maps indicated the drive would take 15 minutes. One of them got back with me and said that would be great, and that they would meet us in the lobby of the building at 3:30 (which was 30 minutes after our  agreed upon check-in time, but it was raining very hard, and I thought maybe that played into it a bit, so I didn’t worry much about it).

With our bellies full, we got in the car and I called the number given to me when I booked the apartment, only to get a business voicemail. I declined to leave a voice message and instead messaged them through the app, telling them that we were on our way, and that we would see them at 3:30. When we arrived in the parking garage across the street, I still hadn’t heard from them, so we walked into the lobby and waited…and waited…and waited…until about 3:45, when I sent another message indicating we were there. At 3:50, I called the number again, leaving a voicemail this time. At 3:55, a woman who earlier had walked through the lobby and gone up the elevator approached us and asked if we had a 4:00 PM check-in.

We indicated that we, in fact, had a 3:00 PM check-in, but were asked to meet the hosts at 3:30. She told us that she was there as a representative of her sister, who in turn works for the hosts. Her sister was out of town or some such, and she was sent to clean the room for us, but turns out the guy who stayed the night before hadn’t checked out yet, all of his stuff was in the apartment, and he was nowhere to be found. She spent the next 15 minutes trying to contact one of the hosts (one of which was out of the country on vacation, while the other was apparently in some kind of business meeting), and eventually she was told by someone to go ahead up and clean the room for us.

We followed her up to the loft and were greeted by a room in complete disarray: TV left on, laundry in the washing machine, air matress inflated in the middle of the living area, dirty clothes and dishes all over the place, and, as expected, no sign of the asshole who clearly had no intention of leaving anytime soon. The poor woman who was acting as the face of the hosts started trying to clean for us while we stood there frantically looking for a hotel room somewhere close, hoping like hell this fuckwad wouldn’t come back while we were all in there, because fuck a bunch of that awkward bullshit. We booked a room about 1 mile from the venue (for an obscene amount of money), told her we were not comfortable staying in this room, for many reasons, and that we were gonna stay somewhere else and get a refund on this ridiculous situation. She replied that she was glad we said that, because she wasn’t comfortable with the sitation either.

We left the buiding, walked back across the street to the parking garage in the torrential rain, and drove to our newly-booked hotel. The front desk staff and the place were very nice (although obviously overpriced), and I’d recommend the Vu Guesthouse to anyone staying in downtown Louisville. We got in the room, freshened up, and requested a Lyft – we still had plenty of time before the show started, but we wanted to stop at the Bluegrass Brewing Company for a small bite to eat and some much more affordable beers before entering the  overpriced confines of the KFC Yum! Center (official motto: A Very Nice Venue With A Very Bad Name*).

We stood out in the rain and watched our Lyft driver speed past us without even looking our way. I got a notification that he was waiting on us, and would be leaving in 1 minute, so I called him and told him where we were. He responded that he was there, too, and after a much-too-long phone conversation, we realized he was in the parking lot behind us. We got in his car to the sounds of some kind of god-awful pop music and proceeded downtown in the worst traffic I’ve ever experienced in Louisville. The one mile trip took us almost 25 minutes, and if it hadn’t been raining so very, very hard, I would’ve gotten out and walked. I told the missus that I was going to have a good time tonight if it killed me, and that I was confident that everything would soon be coming up Milhouse.

We arrived at BBC right around 6:00 PM and were told by the hostess that it would probably be a 1 hour wait for a table. I told her we were gonna go grab a beer and wait inside somewhere, and she said that was fine, as long as we didn’t stand on the stairs. We ordered a couple of pints (the keg blew while the bartender was pouring mine (because at that point, why the hell wouldn’t it?), and she gave me three quarters of a beer for free while she poured a different beer for me – “Milhouse!”, I said to the missus) and found ourselves a back corner next to the stairs. The place was fucking packed, and the music was blaring, almost uncomfortably so – I think they were trying to get people pumped for the show, but I think they may also have trying to get some people to clear out. Only one of those possible motives had the possible desired effect; the crowd was clearly into the jams and had no intention of leaving until the rain lightened up.

“Hey Joel, are you ever gonna get to the fucking point and talk about the goddamn show?” That’s a fair question; we’ll be there soon, I promise.

We chatted up another couple standing near us, both of whom were very friendly, and after about 15 minutes the rain did let up, and over half the crowd (including our new chums) cleared out, seemingly all at once, and crossed the still completely jammed up intersection to wait in line outside the venue. Three seats opened up at the bar, we snagged two, and within one minute, we were able to order food and more beers (“Milhouse!”). Our food arrived in record time, and just as it was placed in front of us, one of the bartenders switched the music over to a strictly Metallica playlist (“Milhouse!”). We finished up, paid our tab, and crossed the still completely jammed up intersection to wait in line outside the venue. We got in quickly, found our seats, and mostly enjoyed the comedy stylings of funnyman Jim Breuer, who for whatever reason is the opening act on this leg of the tour.

Jim Breuer is down there somewhere.

Sometime around 8:15, the lights went down and the crowd roared as the strains of Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold” began to play over the sound system, accompanied by the scene that accompanies it in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I was overcome by emotion, due both to the moment and to the beauty of that song and movie, and I may or may not have started weeping uncontrollably. Next thing you know, the band is onstage and ripping through the first two songs from their latest offering, 2016’s Hardwired…to Self-Destruct. James addressed the crowd briefly, then they laid out a killer rendition of “Seek and Destroy”, followed by “Harvester of Sorrow”, then a whole bunch of other rad shit for a set that ended up being somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 hours long.

Here’s the stage minutes before Metallica ruled it.

The band was tight (as they should be), and it might’ve been my imagination, but it seemed like they were playing songs faster than the studio versions, which was extra cool, but did make it a bit more challenging to sing along. James kicked ass on vocals, which honestly was my primary concern going into the show. I’ve seen and heard plenty of live footage of the band from the past several years, and his voice has often sounded strained, but he sounded great, as he has on every live video I’ve seen from this tour so far. He had to pitch a bit lower on the older songs, but every band from the old days has to do that (with the notable exception of Death Angel). He was able to adjust without making it sound weird, and I was very glad about that.

The light show was dope, but I especially enjoyed this, during “Halo on Fire”.

I enjoyed the songs from the new album very much, although I did take a pee break during Lars’ drum solo in the midst of “Now That We’re Dead”, which proved to be a very popular time for a pee break. They played several songs from 1991’s Metallica (a.k.a. “The Black Album”), and I say with absolute certainty that those songs have never sounded better. I even enjoyed the live rendition of “Fuel”, from the band’s much-maligned multi-platinum 1997 Reload, although further research has indicated that I still do not enjoy the studio version.

The band has broken attendance records at several of the venues they’ve played on this absurdly long tour, and our stop was no different, with a final tally of 23,084 (beating the previous record held by country superstar George Strait since 2014). Our crowd also holds the distinction of being the largest crowd so far of the North American leg of the tour. Oddly enough though, for an extremely loud sold-out crowd on a Saturday night, we were the only people in our section who stood at any point during the show, save for the people behind us (who only stood up after we did, which was immediately upon hearing the opening strains of “The Ecstasy of Gold”) and one other dude down the way from us. In fact, all throughout our level, we could see people just sitting, as if Metallica was not rocking their balls and/or tits off. That was weird.

SETLIST

  1. Hardwired
  2. Atlas, Rise!
  3. Seek and Destroy
  4. Harvester of Sorrow
  5. The Unforgiven
  6. Now That We’re Dead (with extended middle drum solo/pee break)
  7. Creeping Death
  8. For Whom the Bell Tolls
  9. Halo on Fire (followed by Kirk and Rob’s solos, featuring “Too Rolling Stoned” (Robin Trower) and “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth“)
  10. Motorbreath
  11. Fuel
  12. Moth Into Flame
  13. Sad But True
  14. One
  15. Master of Puppets

ENCORE

  1. Battery
  2. Nothing Else Matters
  3. Enter Sandman

To sum up: I laughed, I cried, I screamed, I cried some more, and I nearly lost my goddamn mind. After almost 33 years of surviving the ups and downs that accompany being a Metallica fan, I finally got to see Metallica live. I can’t help but think that after all the bullshit in the hours leading up to it, I had an even better time than I would otherwise have had, but either way, it was one of the greatest and most cathartic experiences of my life.

At the risk of sounding like a total goober, I’m just gonna go ahead and say that for a couple of hours on Saturday night, March 9, 2019, nothing else mattered. Thanks for reading, friends, and stay heavy.

*Not their real motto.

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Once You Have Seen It You’ll Never Be the Same: A Very Brief Update

Just time for a brief update, because…

I’M GONNA SEE METALLICA TONIGHT!

This is a Bucket List item, for sure, even though Lars makes me wanna punch things, and they haven’t released a great album since 1988, and I don’t actually have a Bucket List. I love Metallica’s first 3 albums like they were my own children, and I love their 4th album like it was my own child’s best friend, and I like their 5th album like it was my own child’s best friend’s dad, who is fun to be around sometimes, but who always wears out his welcome sooner or later.

The rest of their albums have some decent-to-good moments, and I tolerate them like they were my neighbors – waving sometimes, ignoring other times. Except for Lulu, which is the next door neighbor who has a yard full of junk and stares at you when you walk by his house and insists that the property line is 3 feet closer to your house than it really is. Fuck Lulu, and fuck that imaginary neighbor.

St. Anger is a cousin who can be fun to hang out with sometimes, except when they start to talk about politics.

Anyhoo, I’m fuckin stoked about this show, friends, and I’m stoked about the people watching that will accompany this event. Rumor has it John “Johnny “The Coug” Cougar” Mellencamp is playing a show in Louisville tonight as well. Maybe he’ll scowl at me for no discernable reason from across a restaurant, like he did one time at Chipotle.

I’ll surely be back with an update sooner or later. Until then, stay heavy.

You Are Coming Down With Me, Hand in Unlovable Hand: A Brief Update

Ahoy there, friends. It’s been a very long time since I’ve done anything with this sumbitch, and I’m not here to claim that that’ll change anytime soon, because I know myself, and myself is pretty lazy unless something is required of it. However, this year is shaping up to be a doozy of a motherfucker in the live music field for yours truly, and a few minutes ago, a text from Mrs. Stay Heavy reminded me of the imminence of said live music, so I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some of the upcoming shows that I am looking forward to in the coming year.

First up (and this is a big one): I’m finally gonna see fuckin Metallica live, in Louisville, KY! I know that the band has become a shadow of its former self (I’ve expressed that sentiment in these pages plenty), but I also know that they are one of the primary reasons I’m sitting here writing about this right now (for better or worse). Metallica™️ causes me a wide range of emotions (mostly negative), but Metallica will always be one of my favorites. My amazing wife bought us tickets for my birthday last year, and one of my childhood dreams is about to come true in 30 days. There’ll almost certainly be more to come, re: this.

I’d be over the fucking moon if they played this one…

Approximately one week later, we’re going to see Clutch with Big Business in Indianapolis! It’ll be my 8th or 9th time seeing Clutch live, and the first time in about 5 years. My feelings regarding Clutch have been documented here briefly, but I will say that after two less than stellar albums, they’ve found their way back into my life, and their most recent album, Book of Bad Decisions, kicks a lot of ass. It’ll be my first time seeing Big Business live, but they fucking rule, and I’m super stoked about that. It’s only my second time seeing Clutch with an opening act that I am already familiar with (last time I saw them, The Sword was direct support), and I’m into that. There’s another band opening; they’re from France, and they’re called The Inspector Cluzo, and I don’t know much about them, but based on the songs I’ve listened to, they sound cool, and they sound like a band that would open for Clutch.

In April, Overkill and Death Angel are playing a show in Louisville on my cousin Jason’s birthday. Death Angel is his favorite band, and if you’ve read much of this blog, you’ll know that I love them like they were my own child, so we’re both super stoked about that. I’m also psyched about Overkill, as I haven’t seen them live yet, and that’s pretty stupid of me, quite frankly.

Act of Defiance is opening the shows, but I won’t share anything from them yet, as I haven’t looked into them yet, because I currently cannot stop listening to the Mountain Goats, which leads us into May…

…when I’ll be seeing the Mountain Goats for the first time, here in Bloomington. They’re not musically heavy, but their lyrics can be heavy as fuck, and Mountain Goat/guitarist/vocalist/lyricist John Darnielle is a huge fan of heavy music, and used to write a fucking amazing, hilarious, sometimes surreal column called “South Pole Dispatch” for Decibel magazine. It’s sure to be a great time.

A few days after the Mountain Goats show, Iron Reagan, Sacred Reich, and fucking Leeway (!) are playing in Chicago, but there’s only like a 2% chance I’ll be able to make it to that one. I really wanna see Sacred Reich and Leeway live. Someday, I suppose. There’s a band called Enforced opening the shows as well, but I don’t know anything about them, and since I won’t likely be in attendance, I haven’t bothered looking into them. I’ve been working on a thing about Leeway for a while now, and that’ll possibly be finished eventually, maybe.

In August, Iron fucking Maiden returns to Indianapolis for the first time since 2012, this time on the Legacy of the Beast tour. There’s not much I can say about this one, but I can guarantee that my voice will be shot for at least a day afterward.

Also, while I will not be in attendance, the almighty Vio-Lence are reuniting to play two shows in San Francisco April 13th and 14th. The first day they’ll be playing their 1988 masterpiece Eternal Nightmare in its entirety for the first time ever. If I win the lottery before then, I’ll certainly find a way to attend one or both of those shows, but in reality, I’ll just be here in southern Indiana, jamming Eternal Nightmare like I do any other given day.

Sweet mother of Jeebus, y’all, that’s a heavy goddamn year, and it’s only February, so more shows are sure to be added. Thanks for reading, stay tuned, and as always, stay heavy.

We Turn It On And You’ll Be Going Crazy: A Sort of Review of Voivod Live at Zanzabar, Louisville, KY, 02.29.16

This show happened five days ago, and I’m just now feeling up to the task of trying to write about it. There are many reasons for the delay, but chief among them are lack of time, lack of energy, and, quite frankly, lack of suitable vocabulary. Voivod crushed the shit out of Louisville, Kentucky on Leap Day 2016, and my brain was among those casualties.

I woke up with the plague that morning, and was as sad and angry as I’ve been in a long, long time. I told Mrs. Stay Heavy that if I didn’t feel any better by the time I got off work, I didn’t think I’d be able to go. I felt like my head was caving in, and there was no way I could miss the next day of work, plus I had to drive 2 hours each way for the show, and like Detective Roger Murtaugh, I’m too old for that shit.

toooldforthisshit

As the day progressed, so did my health, and by the time I got home from work, my body was operating at an estimated 78.3% capacity. That was good enough for me. The missus was getting over her own seasonal bullshit sickness, and she was feeling a bit better, too, so we hopped in the car and drove down, arriving at Zanzabar a little after 7 PM.

This sign greeted us outside. I kinda wish I'd gotten the Cobb salad.

This sign greeted us outside. I kinda wish I’d gotten the Cobb salad.

We ordered a pizza, which was just okay (though our service was great, which was a welcome change for us). While we ate, Black Fast did their sound check. I hadn’t listened to them before, but I liked what I was hearing. After eating, we scoped out the premises. It’s a small, weird, eclectic space; pinball machines abound, along with some arcade games. I got the chance to play the Star Wars pinball machine that is partially responsible for my dropping out of college my freshman year, and I’m still just okay at it, but it’s still fun as fuck to play.

Anyway, Black Fast took the stage at 8:30 sharp and played a super heavy, super tight 30 minute set. The relatively small-ish crowd that was gathered around the stage was really into it, and the band clearly fed off their energy, giving it back in spades. I could feel myself regressing a bit, so we went back to sit near the bar after a couple of songs so I could reserve my energy for the main event. I was unable to see the very low stage from my seat, but they sounded great throughout, and I look forward to hearing more from these dudes.

Vektor did a fairly brief setup, during which I played more pinball and checked out the merch, then played their ferocious set to a pretty good number of true believers. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’d only heard one Vektor song prior to that night, and I only listened to that one a couple of weeks ago, after I bought the tickets to this show. Suffice it to say, I was a god damn fool. Vektor were fucking breathtaking, and I wish I could afford to purchase their entire discography right now.

I had to step outside at one point during their set, because in addition to my slowly declining health, I was starting to get sleepy, too. The missus came with me, and we stepped out the door just in time to see Snake walking by. We exchanged a casual “hello” with him, and I played it cool, but my inner fanboy was about to piss himself with excitement. We went back inside and caught the last song-and-a-half of Vektor’s set, then made our way toward the front, managing to snag pretty premium spots right near the front of stage right, a.k.a. Chewy’s side.

After what seemed like decades, the fantastic and disorienting sound of the delayed bass from around the 2:50 mark of Pink Floyd’s “One of These Days” came thundering over the PA, and the heroes of the evening took the stage, smiling like little kids on Christmas morning. They cleaved the top of my head off with “Ripping Headaches”, then continued to slowly cut me into little pieces throughout what is easily one of the top five shows I’ve ever gotten the chance to see. I got three shitty pictures right at the beginning…

Snake is so much fun to watch.

Snake is so much fun to watch.

Chewy in action. I was also in action. I put my camera away after this.

Chewy in action. I was also in action.

Away, dematerializing.

Away, crossing dimensions.

…and then put my phone away and let the show transport me to another dimension – a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. The set was absolutely flawless, and the band was obviously having a blast, and sounded tighter than a duck’s asshole. I almost lost my shit during “Inner Combustion”, “Killing Technology”, “The Prow”, and “Psychic Vacuum”. I screamed along until I almost puked during “Voivod”. And I cried like a little baby during “Astronomy Domine”, just as I do every time I watch live footage and Snake dedicates it to Piggy.

By the time the set was over, I felt like I’d been hit by a car and knocked down a flight of stairs. Every song was stellar, and the only downside to the entire show were the three assholes who were standing right around me. Here’s a little bit about them…

There was the drunk guy – I’ll call him “Drunky”. Drunky was okay at first, but he repeatedly leaned on Chewy’s monitor, causing it slide around, and inexplicably just kept pointing at Away, as if to indicate to all of us that Away was, in fact, there. His shit got old before it was all over, but he was mostly harmless. I saw him getting practically dragged down the sidewalk by two friends after the show, so I know he wasn’t necessarily in control of his facilities, but hopefully he learns to handle his booze a little better in the future. Prolly not, though, as he looked to be mid-40s. Anyway…

Then there was The Couple…the missus referred to the guy as “the poor man’s Brendan Fraser”, but I maintain that Brendan Fraser himself gets that distinction, so I called him “Brendan Fraser’s Dumb Looking Cousin”. He was there with his ladyfriend, who we’ll call “Backpack”, since she was wearing one and clearly did not give a shit about the fact that it was constantly knocking into people. These two douche canoes spent 80% of the goddamn show taking pictures and video with their goddamn phones. It was bad enough that Snake said to Brendan Fraser’s Dumb Looking Cousin at one point, “I’m not getting in your way while you’re filming, am I?”, which prompted Backpack to yell out, “but he loves you guys!” As if the rest of us fucking don’t, right?

But did BFDLC get the point? Clearly not, because shortly thereafter, he pulled his goddamn phone out of his goddamn pocket again, only to lose his goddamn grip and send it goddamn flying onto the goddamn stage, immediately to the right of and behind Chewy’s foot. He managed to lean over and picked it up without incident, but he could have easily tripped Chewy, and I was reeeeaaaaly hoping Chewy would step on it and break it. And Backpack just spent the whole show bumping into me with her backpack and holding her phone way up in everybody’s way.

HEY DUMB DICKS: IF I WANTED TO WATCH THE SHOW THROUGH YOUR GODDAMN PHONES, I WOULD’VE STAYED HOME AND LOOKED THAT SHIT UP ON YOUTUBE THE NEXT DAY, YOU DUMB DICKS.

And I get it; I understand that people want mementos, a little something to remember the show by, but sometimes memories should be enough, and I believe if Brendan Fraser’s Dumb Looking Cousin and Backpack had just fucking let themselves get lost in the experience, like I was mostly able to do in spite of them, they wouldn’t need 700 shitty, blurry pictures to remember the night.

“But Joel, you took pictures too, you hypocrite,” you might say. To that I respond: I took three pictures. The picture of Snake was within the first minute of the show, and the pictures of Chewy and Away were both taken during the same song, and from a low angle, so I wasn’t blocking anyone else’s view when I snapped them. That’s part of why they are shitty pictures.

Anyway, the show ended, and Chewy gave me a pick, and I told him and Rocky and Snake that the show was great, and I told Away, in all honesty, that it was one of the greatest things I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness, and his response was “Oh, wow, thank you so much. And thank you for coming”, and I’m just like, wow, how fucking amazing is that man – one of the true geniuses of our time, and I don’t believe he could’ve been more polite or humble.

Good lord, am I in some kind of comma splice contest or something?

We hit the merch table on the way out, but they only had the Killing Technology shirts (which is the one I wanted most) in size small, and I didn’t really have the money to spend on a shirt anyway, so I bought three buttons and a sticker, and we began the drive home, arriving back a little after 2 AM. I felt like absolute hell, but I somehow managed to get to work on time and do a serviceable job, and I’ve been living in a strange kind of daze ever since. Part of that is related to the fact that I’m still recovering from this bastard of a sinus infection and am on various and sundry medications, but the bulk of the daze is undoubtedly due to the time I spent in Voivod’s multiverse on a day that only exists once every four years. It is a day I will never forget, even though I only got three pictures.

                                                         SETLIST:

 

  1. Ripping Headaches (from Rrröööaaarrr, 1986)
  2. Tribal Convictions (from Dimension Hatröss, 1988)
  3. Overreaction (from Killing Technology, 1987)
  4. Kluskap O’Kom (from Target Earth, 2013)
  5. Inner Combustion (from Nothingface, 1989)
  6. Post Society (from Post Society EP, 2016)
  7. Killing Technology (from Killing Technology, 1987)
  8. The Prow (from Angel Rat, 1991)
  9. We Are Connected (from Post Society EP, 2016)
  10. Psychic Vacuum (from Dimension Hatröss, 1988)
  11. Forever Mountain (from Post Society EP, 2016)
  12. Voivod (from War and Pain, 1984)
  13. Astronomy Domine (from Nothingface, 1989)

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading, and remember to stay heavy, always.

 

Mixtape Monday (Friday Edition), Volume 10: Sadness Will Prevail

I haven’t done one of these mixtapes in a while, but I find myself with time to write and unable to think of much to say. One of my best friends left town yesterday to move 1,000 miles away, and I’m fuckin sad about it. I spent a while pretending it wasn’t really happening, then as time marched forward in its unceasing way, I tried to not think about it. At his going away party last Saturday, I may or may not have broken down and cried in front of everyone (I did) (although alcohol may have played a role in said possible breakdown), and since I last saw him Wednesday night, I’ve just been in a weird funk, and I thought maybe putting together a sadness-themed mix might help me move past it.

i-had-friends-on-that-death-star

Part of the sadness is undoubtedly due the fact that he’s one of like 4 friends who lives around here who doesn’t have any kids, and please do not misunderstand – I love my friends with kids (and those kids) dearly, but with Mrs. Stay Heavy and myself being in our mid-to-late 30’s, childless friends are becoming more rare these days than a PhD at a Five Finger Death Punch concert, and sometimes we wanna hang out with no kids around, y’know?

Aside from his lack of dependents, though, he’s just an all around awesome guy. Like me, he grew up watching the Golden Era of professional wrestling. Like me, he’s a fan of horror and science-fiction, and a music aficionado (although his tastes do not lean as heavy as mine), plus he’s the only person I’ve ever known who always gets it when I quote The Simpsons.

My selfish sadness aside, I understand why he moved, and it’s not like I’m never gonna see him again. I know I’ll get over it, and if I don’t, then it’s my problem, isn’t it? Either way, let’s move on to the substance of this post, then shall we?

These are in no particular order, and the title of this mix is taken from an album by Today is the Day. I included a song of theirs here, but nothing from that album, because I’m not familiar enough with it. Also, I wanted to include something from Louisiana sludge kings Acid Bath, but everything of theirs that gets put up on YouTube gets taken down almost immediately. You should check them out on your own time, though. You can just pick a song, and it’s pretty much guaranteed make you sad, creep you out, or, in many cases, both.

Anyway, this is for you, Sal, even though you’d probably only like maybe two of these songs.

Life of Agony – “Let’s Pretend” (from Ugly – 1995) – I have plans to write about Life of Agony at length, hopefully sooner than later, so I don’t want to say too much here, but sweet merciful crap, is this song ever sad.

“But sometimes I like to pretend, that she knows me, that she holds me…
I guess I can’t, ’cause she doesn’t know who I am.”

Metallica – “Fade to Black” (from Ride the Lightning – 1985) – If you’re reading these words, I’m going to assume you’ve heard this song at least a few times before, so I’ve included the live version from the Cliff ’em All home video, which you should own.

“No one but me can save myself, but it’s too late
Now I can’t think, think why I should even try.”

Type O Negative – “Bloody Kisses (A Death in the Family)” (from Bloody Kisses – 1993) – If you’re not familiar with Type O Negative, you might be surprised to learn that they were often light-hearted and hilarious in their lyrics, with late singer/bassist Peter Steele planting his tongue so firmly in his cheek that plenty of people didn’t get the joke. However, when Type O Negative made a sad song, Type O Negative went ahead and made a sad, sad bastard of a song. RIP Mr. Steele.

“A pair of souls become undone
Where were two, now one
Divided by this wall of death, I soon will join you yet.”

My Dying Bride – “The Cry of Mankind” (from The Angel and the Dark River – 1995) – Since the late 1980’s, British indie label Peaceville Records has been putting out some extremely high-quality extreme music. Bradford, England’s miserable sonsabitches My Dying Bride, along with Paradise Lost and Anathema, were part of what was known as the “Peaceville Three”. All three bands were signed to Peaceville in the early 90’s (when metal was dead), and were pioneers in the death/doom metal genre that has since blossomed like a rotting black rose.

“I will make them all lie down
Down where hope lies dying.”

Voivod – “Morpheus” (from Infini – 2009) – I’m still working on my continuation of the Voivod saga, the first three parts of which can be viewed here, here, and here, so I don’t want to discuss this album much, but I will say that the lyrics were inspired by late guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour’s death from cancer. RIP Piggy.

“The thing inside me, won’t let me be
This nightmare is real, let me out of me.”

Iron Maiden – “When the Wild Wind Blows” (from The Final Frontier – 2010) – This is the last song on what is currently Iron Maiden’s most recent studio album (The Book of Souls is out in less than one month!), and it’s my favorite song on that album by a pretty wide margin. The song is inspired by a 1982 graphic novel called When the Wind Blows, and by a 1986 animated film of the same name, however, the song has a different ending than the book and movie. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried the first time I listened to this song, and, in fact, I have cried many times since while listening to it, most recently when I watched the video below, which uses scenes from the movie.

“Have you heard what they said on the news today?
Have you heard what is coming to us all?
That the world as we know it will be coming to an end
Have you heard, have you heard?”

Candlemass – “Solitude” (from Epicus Doomicus Metallicus – 1986) – I only know like three songs from Swedish doom merchants Candlemass, but all three of them rule. I should listen to more of them, and you should, too.

“I long for my time to come
death means just life
Please let me die in solitude.”

Testament – “Cold Embrace” (from Dark Roots of Earth – 2012) – I don’t really have anything new to add, re: Testament, as it’s all pretty well documented. Just look around. See?

“The sun will never shine on you
Daylight blinds your way…
Now accept this cold embrace.”

Vallenfyre – “Seeds” (from A Fragile King – 2011) – Vallenfyre began as a side project formed by Paradise Lost guitarist Gregor Mackintosh to write out the pain he was feeling after the death of his father. Hamish Glencross, formerly of My Dying Bride, plays guitar in the band as well, so the misery pedigree is not to be fucked with.

“I face an eternal winter
Without you I will cease
You were my idol
I am your priest.”

Suicidal Tendencies – “Nobody Hears” (from The Art of Rebellion – 1992) – This song instantly transports me back in time, to the days when metal was dead, and Suicidal Tendencies, Pantera (“Walk”), and Sacred Reich (“Crawling”) all had songs in rotation on the “alternative rock” station out of Indianapolis, all receiving regular airplay alongside the likes of HelmetWhite Zombie, and others. This song is a bit of a rarity in the ST catalog, in that it does not have a positive resolution at the end. It just starts and ends as a bummer. It still kicks a ton of ass, though.

“So what do I have to do
To make you comfort me
Now I’m sitting here screaming inside myself
Don’t understand why nobody hears.”

Thergothon – “Crying Blood + Crimson Snow” (from Stream From the Heavens – 1994) – To be perfectly honest, I know very little about Thergothon, except that they were a Finnish band, and are considered one of the first bands to play the style that has since come to be known as “funeral doom”, which means they obviously fit this theme.

“Oh, the everlasting winter of my soul
Ice burns my skin, I writhe in cold and grief.”

Anthrax – “A.D.I./The Horror of It All” (from Among the Living – 1987) – As a kid, I used to try and figure out what “A.D.I.” stood for, thinking it must be something deep and profound, only to find out a few years ago that it was short for “Arabian Douche(bag) Intro”. Depending on the source, it was either a way to poke fun at the then-common practice of Bay Area Thrash bands including an acoustic intro to big, bludgeoning tracks, or a way to poke fun at then-lead guitarist Dan Spitz, who was always tooling around with it before it was included as the intro to “The Horror of It All”, which is a song about the death of a loved one.

“You’re not supposed to question, but why’s there so much pain
When someone’s taken from you?
What can you do or say?”

Today is the Day – “Death Curse” (from Pain is a Warning – 2011) – Aside from one song on a Relapse Records sampler (I can’t remember which song, but I think it was “In the Eyes of God”), Pain is a Warning was my introduction to Today is the Day. I bought it at the now-defunct Ear-X-Tacy Records in Louisville, KY, along with Hater by Total Fucking Destruction and the vinyl reissue of D.R.I.‘s Crossover, and at the time, I was working a job that was slowly destroying my soul. Pain is a Warning played a pretty significant role in my survival of that year. I adore it from beginning to end.

“It’s a lie
It’s a lie
Work until you die
It’s my life
Liars!
Liars!
Work and then you die
Death curse!”

Deftones – “Teenager” (from White Pony – 2000) – Here’s a nice mellow way to wind things down. I don’t care what anyone else thinks about the Deftones; I think they kick some serious ass, and I sincerely believe that they get unfairly maligned due to their association with shitty nü-metal bands, when they are, in fact, head and shoulders above nearly all their late-90’s/early 2000’s peers. I admittedly haven’t heard much of their work past their 2003 self-titled album, but I’ve yet to hear a Deftones song that I don’t enjoy. They really do  the whole quiet/loud dynamic thing exceptionally well, and this song is just heartbreaking.

“I drove you home
Then you moved away
New cavity moved into
My heart today.”

That’s all I got for today, heavy people. For the record, it did help alleviate my sadness a bit. Time will tell how long that lasts. Until next time, stay heavy, always.

Making the Legacy Known: A Sort of Review of the Testament/Exodus Show at the Mercury Ballroom, Louisville, KY, 04.21.15

I am in a fair amount of pain today, and it’s a mostly good pain, but still, I hurt. I am a reasonable, rational adult (more or less), so I understand that I am responsible for my own actions, but Testament and Exodus must shoulder some of the blame for my current state; if they weren’t so fucking amazing, and hadn’t played the Mercury Ballroom last night on the Louisville stop of their current Dark Roots of Thrash II tour, I very likely would not be sitting at my computer alternating an ice pack and a heating pad on my neck and shoulders while I attempt to put words to what I witnessed last night.

I suppose I should begin by saying that this tour has been slightly mis-advertised; from the very beginning, it’s been clearly stated that Testament would be “perform[ing an] exclusive new set list, including The Legacy & The New Order in their entirety + select Practice What You Preach lp cuts”. I understood that to mean that they would be performing those albums beginning to end, followed by an encore of songs from 1989’s Practice What You Preach, and that did not happen, but that’s on me; the words “beginning to end” have never been a part of the advertising for this tour. Testament instead played a set of songs from both albums – a set which covered all of their 1987 debut The Legacy, but which did not cover all of 1988’s The New Order, as it left out the hauntingly beautiful instrumental pieces “Hypnosis” and “Musical Death (A Dirge)”, along with their badass cover of Aerosmith’s “Nobody’s Fault”, which I was very psyched to hear live. In addition, the “select cuts from Practice What You Preach” ended up being the title track (which they play live on a pretty regular basis), and nothing else – no “Nightmare (Coming Back to You)”, no “Envy Life”, no “Time is Coming”, no “Greenhouse Effect”, nothing…just the title track, which totally fucking rules, but can hardly be considered “select cuts”.

Anyway, that’s a minor issue overall, as the show was fucking amazing, and quite frankly, I would be making plans to see it again at Bogart’s in Cincinnati on May 2 if I could swing it financially. Here’s a rough breakdown of the night…

My cousin Jason and I (who grew up listening to metal with me) got in the doors toward the end of opener Shattered Sun’s set. I wasn’t in a hurry to get in, as I didn’t really care about seeing their set, but I have to admit that the little bit that I did see was pretty damn good. Yesterday happened to be the release date for their debut album, Hope Within Hatred, and I doubt I’ll purchase the album, but I would see them live again if I had the chance. They’re pretty tight.

A relatively short break followed, made complete by $8 beers (at least they were draft Stella Artois) and a pee-pee break, then the lights went out, a roar went up, and Dan the Automator’s fucking sick-ass beats began to boom out of the sound system, signalling the imminent impact of Exodus and “Black 13”, the opening track from last year’s monstrous album, Blood In Blood Out. The band took the stage as frontman Steve “Zetro” Souza flashed a devilish grin to the crowd, pointed randomly out to various parts of the crowd and twirled his finger in the air to indicate that he was not about to allow this crowd to not become a circle pit. Roughly half of the crowd obliged, and most of that group did not ease up until the band left the stage. Exodus fanatics are some tough SOB’s.

The band flowed from “Black 13” directly into the title track from the new album, and the crowd did indeed rage, and I can’t help but believe that Paul Baloff would have been proud. After “Blood In Blood Out,” Zetro finally addressed the crowd, which was followed by two Rob Dukes-era songs, “Iconoclasm” and “Children of a Worthless God” [Both songs originally appeared on 2007’s The Atrocity Exhibition…Exhibit A, which is a seriously kickass album, which is a true statement about all of the Rob Dukes-era albums, even the highly controversial Let There Be Blood (2008’s re-recording of the band’s classic first album, 1985’s Bonded By Blood). I am a bonafide Rob Dukes fan, and I make no apologies for it. But I digress.]

I was interested to hear those songs with Zetro’s voice, but “Children of a Worthless God” especially, as it is notable for a recurring clean vocal passage, but I have to say that I was pretty goddamn impressed with Zet’s delivery. The band then taught us all “A Lesson in Violence”, then played another song from the new album, “Salt the Wound”, which is notable in the studio version for featuring a guitar solo from Kirk Hammett, who formed Exodus in 1981 before being poached by Metallica. Hammett’s solo sounds pretty much like every other Kirk Hammett solo from the past 20 years, and the song itself is the weakest on the album in my opinion, but it was much better live. In fact, I thought Zetro’s voice on all the new songs sounded better live than on the album, where it tends to take on a very Cobra Commander quality. I am not wrong about this – listen for yourself:

To be clear, in no way does this diminish my enjoyment of any era of Exodus. But I continue to digress.

The lights went out again after “Salt the Wound”, and the spoken intro to 1989’s Fabulous Disaster played, followed by that album’s opening song “The Last Act of Defiance”, followed by the remainder of their set (highlighted by perennial crowd favorite and fond ode to moshing, “The Toxic Waltz”), followed by a much-needed break for yours truly. It was really difficult to not expend every bit of my energy on Exodus, and I had to constantly remind myself that Testament was yet to go on, and that I had a two-hour drive back home after that.  The crowd cleared out a bit when the lights went up, so Jason and I moved closer, scoring some pretty sweet spots directly in front of the sound board.

This was where our view began, before the insane crowd caused us to move a bit to the left.

This was where our view began, before the insane crowd caused us to move a bit to the left.

A fairly quick set change took place, and soon the lights went out again, and the mighty Testament began to crush everyone in the room with their fucking flawless thrash metal. They kicked off with the first four songs from The Legacy, in order, then jumped ahead a year and played a brilliant version of “The Preacher” before reaching back into the debut for “Do or Die” and “First Strike is Deadly”. Chuck then introduced The New Order‘s outstandingly good “A Day of Reckoning” by indicating that they almost never played it live until this tour (which, quite frankly, has been a pretty stupid decision).

“Apocalyptic City” followed, then a block of the first four songs from The New Order, in order, followed by the remainder of The Legacy, “Alone in the Dark” and an almost unbelievably fast version of “C.O.T.L.O.D.”, which I anticipated bringing about the most intense pit action, but which was instead relatively mild, which I attributed to an exhausted crowd that simply gave too much too soon. The band left the stage for the standard encore break, then played their “select cuts” from Practice What You Preach before ending an amazing night of amazing music with the unfuckingtouchable “Disciples of the Watch” (OBEY!), during which it became clear that the crowd was not out of energy yet. Holy shit, friends, “Disciples of the Watch” can incite a fucking pit!

This is as close as I could get to capturing the whole band in a picture. Standing still while Testament plays is HARD, y'all!

This is as close as I could get to capturing the whole band in a picture. Standing still while Testament plays is HARD, y’all!

Exodus Setlist

“Black 13”

“Blood In Blood Out”

“Iconoclasm”

“Children of a Worthless God”

“A Lesson in Violence” (from Bonded By Blood)

“Salt the Wound”

“Blacklist” (from Tempo of the Damned – 2004)

“Bonded By Blood” (from BBB)

“War is My Shepherd” (from TotD)

“The Toxic Waltz” (from Fabulous Disaster)

“Strike of the Beast” (from BBB)

Testament Setlist

“Over the Wall”

“The Haunting”

“Burnt Offerings”

“Raging Waters”

“The Preacher”

“Do or Die”

“First Strike is Deadly”

“A Day of Reckoning”

“Apocalyptic City”

“Eerie Inhabitants”

“The New Order”

“Trial By Fire”

“Into the Pit”

“Alone in the Dark”

“C.O.T.L.O.D.”

— encore break —

“Practice What You Preach”

“Disciples of the Watch”

Final Thoughts: There were quite a few kids there (with parents), which was fucking awesome! Both Zetro and Chuck noticed and commented on it. Also, I still haven’t heard any songs live from Exodus’ second album (and their debut with Zetro) Pleasures of the Flesh (1987), and I don’t care for that fact. Also, I finally got a Testament shirt with The New Order album cover on it! Also, the sound at the Mercury Ballroom is pretty great, but it’s kind of an awkward place to see a show, what with the support poles positioned around the floor area. Also, the place supposedly has a capacity of 900; being a Tuesday, the show wasn’t sold out, and I’m not good at estimating crowd sizes over about 30, but if there’d been 900 people in that venue, someone might’ve died. Also, I came nearer to getting into a fight than I ever have before (and hopefully ever will again) at a show; that white trash jackass can still fuck off.

There's a good chance my shirt is cooler than your shirt.

There’s a good chance my shirt is cooler than your shirt.

That’s all I got for now, friends. I gotta go rest my neck for Death Angel in Indianapolis (in four days!). Y’all stay heavy…I definitely will.

Thrashy Birthday to Me

I’ll be celebrating my 38th birthday later this week, which is an incredibly difficult thing for me to wrap my brain around. Next Tuesday (4/21), my cousin Jason and I will be travelling to Louisville, KY to catch Testament and Exodus on the Dark Roots of Thrash II tour (Texas band Shattered Sun will be opening, but I don’t care about them), and as you might imagine, I am fuckin pumped.

I might not make it out of this alive, y'all.

I might not make it out of this alive, y’all.

Testament will be playing their first two albums (1987’s The Legacy and (my personal favorite) 1988’s The New Order) beginning to end, followed by “select Practice What You Preach LP (1989) cuts”.

Holy.

Fucking.

Hell.

My favorite thrash band (and second favorite overall band) will be performing two of their greatest works in their entirety! “Over the Wall”! “Burnt Offerings”! “First Strike is Deadly”! “Alone in the Dark”! “Eerie Inhabitants”! “Trial By Fire”! “Into the Pit”! “Disciples of the (motherfucking) Watch”! And all the rest! I might figuratively die from blood loss to my brain from the raging thrash boner I’ll have, if I don’t figuratively die from a broken neck first!

Oh, shit!

God damn!

Plus their badass cover of a badass Aerosmith song (which I admittedly only know because of Testament’s cover)!

Whut?!

But before that even happens, Exodus will thrash my balls clean off with a set consisting of songs from throughout their storied history. A quick perusal of setlists from the past few nights of the tour shows 12 songs, which is pretty sweet, although it does seem that I’m still not gonna get to hear “And Then There Were None” live, which is a bit of a bummer, but I can’t really complain. Plus, they’ve been playing “The Last Act of Defiance” on this tour, which is rad as hell.

See?

Also, they’re playing two Rob Dukes-era songs, and I look forward to hearing those with Zetro on vocals.

But wait! There’s more!

Five days later, on 4/26, Cousin Jason and I will be heading north to Indianapolis to see the mighty Death Angel live, on one of only two headlining shows on their current tour! This will be the first time Death Angel has played Indianapolis since 2012 (when they opened for Anthrax and Testament at the Egyptian Room), and their first headlining show in Indianapolis in 25 fucking years! Motherfucking shit-tits, friends, this is an exciting goddamn month!

Here’s the title track off the band’s latest album, 2013’s fucking phenomenal The Dream Calls for Blood:

Here’s “Truce”, from 2011’s Relentless Retribution, which is the album they were touring on when I saw them a few years back:

And here’s one of my favorite songs of theirs, from 1990’s Act III, which was the last album they released before their original breakup:

A quick shout-out and a HUGE thank you is owed to my amazing wife, who had a hand in making both of these shows happen for me.

Reviews of both shows will of course be forthcoming, and if things work out, there’ll be an extra surprise on these very pages in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned, and stay heavy!