Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The end of all that was evil.

An ongoing theme in this blog is that of getting older and realizing that things are not what you once thought they were. To be more specific, I'm speaking about the shocking revelation that the dark characters who you once thought occupied places of honor within the world of metal are anything but evil. Glenn Danzig washes his car, Mortiis does laundry at a laundromat, members of bands like Mayhem get yelled by their moms for not putting the toilet seat down, that dude from Dark Throne works at the post office. You get my point.

Like the fall from grace that the bible talks about in terms of the devil, this fall too affects us. At least it affects those of us who got involved with metal at such a young age, that we still saw people in some bands as comic book characters (all image and no depth of character, much less reality.) It's with that spirit in mind that I present to you the following images, images that would have absolutely broken my heart had I seen them as an 11 year old.

King Diamond is an American redneck who wears Corvette sunglasses, a Nascar hat and rocks a mustache? What? Okay, he always had the mustache (though it took me years to discover it), but all the other stuff certainly comes as a surprise to me. It's like seeing Batman in his pajama pants. How on earth does a Danish guy get into Nascar anyway? Damn, he's been living in Texas waaaaay too long.

Okay, I know that Cliff Burton never pretended to be a dark, satanic character...but this image would have broken my heart as a kid...if only due to its highly pedestrian nature. I now realize that Cliff was probably not even posing for this picture, but he actually worked doing road maintanence as late as the release of Master Of Puppets. Growing up outside the US, it never occurred to me that people in metal bands were usually the offspring of jobless meth-heads, and usually worked god-awful blue collar jobs. I assumed all americans were highly educated, wealthy, and were all brilliant. Then I saw New Jersey and Long Island, and I learned the truth.

Ugh. I'm speechless. Opposite of evil.

Speaking of King Diamond, this is my favorite King Diamond shirt ever.

I know I posted this picture before, but I had to post it again. As late as my mid-teens, I was convinced that people like Glen Benton were not a total joke. I know, I know...I'm an idiot. Seeing this picture makes me think of how much crap his mom probably gave him when he burned that cross on his forehead. He probably still has to wear hats to family picnics and weddings.


  1. Heavy machinery is pretty metal...

  2. you're right. if he was prooning flowers with dainty little scissors, that would be problematic.

  3. I haven't checked the blog in the last couple of days and missed the opportunity to post my comments (if someone cares), so I'm going to continue the topic about toxodeth here: why do you think, Chris, that guy is Lucho and not his brother? Lucho is usually for Luciano, not Richard (though Richard is a weird name for someone that comes from a Spanish speaking country, but anyway...), and Lucho seems to be a drum player. Thus, given your research and what I'm saying, I'd say Skullcrasher used to play in Toxodeth, not Lucho.
    About Glen Danzig, I'd say he had some hair treatement done, because I saw him in 1994 and he already had that bald spot. It's weird it didn't get bigger in 14 years.

  4. In spanish, Lucho comes from Luis. Just FYI.

  5. "He probably still has to wear hats to family picnics and weddings."

    He admitted in Decibel that he wears a hat when he's coaching his son's soccer team because of the other parents.

  6. re: 'they weren't really evil!'

    It's interesting for me that you seemingly cannot separate (or okay to be more fair that you'd rather not for purposes of humor -- though I think there's some real disappointment under it all) the actual normal every-day human being from the 'entity' that occurs and dictates when a great HM band is making music. The entity is larger than any person themselves and is an expression of their superego and/or id (depends what kind of metal it is) to put it in Freudian terms. As such it is impossible to expect the human being behind the artistry to live up to it when not consciously putting their effort into 'summoning' it. They'd have to live forever, to be in full control of feeling and destiny (for superego) or to fuck everything that moves and lawlessly kill and maim all their enemies (for idspeak) blah blah, the things Heavy Metal talks about. Tall order huh? Should they not make these promises through art because they can't keep them? I don't think so. The process is more important than them delivering on it. When I listen to 'Blessed are the Sick' I am mesmerized and I am full aware that David Vincent is not truly lord belial, bowing not but for his selfish desire but some american douchebag that - yes - probably kept a dayjob at kinkos when he was writing those lyrics. That lyric isn't about HIM, and it isn't about ME, it is about the perfect version of him or me and how that symbol is useful in order to live a fulfilling life. You put it up there and you look at it and you have a beacon to go towards (I am using Morbid Angel here as an example be both understand, as I do not subscribe to ideologies similar to theirs really)

    I am sure you've felt this. What do you gain from tearing it down for humor here? Are you tearing down your inner 'perfect version' of yourselves? Why? For whom? Has society bullied you to that extent? TELL ME EVERYTHING, I AM YOUR ANALYST.

    Anyway, sorry for overtheorizing but this is like complaining that Davinci scratched his ass like a normal person when he wasn't painting or that Plato had a bald spot. I am only nagging about this because it seems to be in the crux of what Metal Inquisition is all about. You feel perhaps somewhat betrayed by the people who weren't really as evil as they looked? Though I sorta sympathize (you dudes seemed by chance to have gotten into a subgenre scene that became very flaky. Have any of your childhood heroes not disappointed?) I think I sorted it out that they channel that 'evil' (or good for that matter!) when they make the music and when they're not they can be human beings like anyone else, when I was about 17? They make symbols and tell stories to inspire a better life, they're not neurotic about appearing consistent in the eyes of their fans. I see this as a merit, not a fault.

    So from that lineup of pictures I only take note of the king diamond in full makeup with the pug, because that's screwing me up, man. The rest is perfectly fine.

  7. i think these posts (and this one in particular) is just showing that some of these guys did a good job at capturing our imagination at the time...and how we all as old (former) metal headz can appreciate being under the influence then as opposed to seeing the pure wankery it was...even if said heavy metal heroes believed their own schtick like we did...

  8. gotta say that Burton pic is/would've been/will continue to be metal as fuck

  9. urm...can anyone else see the resemblance between King Diamond and Orlando Bloom?
    just sayin'.

  10. i don't have trouble believing that these people are real human beings. I really don't care much, but I do find it funny to see King Diamond wearing a Nascar hat, or holding a pug...partially because they crafted an image that I bought into as a kid. to me they were like superheros or something, partially because i didn't speak english, didn't even understand what the band's names meant and had such little access even to things like pictures of the bands. as such, they were insanely mysterious. even bands like anthrax.

    as far as them being normal, when i saw a guy from Obituary go to my brother's high school in florida to pick up a 16 year old girl after class in his pick-up truck, i knew how the world worked. i guess i find it fun to revert to my childhood mindset, if only for a second, and see the world as i know it to be now. the reality is that i honestly don't care much about these people or their work at all, though i appreciate your insight. most of my thoughts about metal are in the past tense. that too will be a post in the future by the way, the fact that metal for me is something i think back on, but am in no way actively engaged in...aside from this blog. i'm boring myself as i type this. as far as why we tear things down in this blog...i don't try to keep ourselves amused perhaps? sarge, can you help me out here?

  11. I was 14 when I got into metal bands like Morbid Angel, Obituary, Carcass etc. in 1989. 11 is a significant difference to 14, I suppose.

    We never took it particularly serious. It was pretty obvious when Deicide came around that Glen Benton was a comedian. I remember the Heavy Metal Heaven series on UK television in '89 or '90, where Benton was interviewed, and you could almost see his eyes cracking as they dried out while he strained to keep them wide open to give that "crazed" look. Funny. Not to mention how hilarious they looked all wrapped up in Bacofoil when I saw them at the Tufnell Park Dome.

    Gwar, on the other hand. They're the real thing.

  12. Helm, dude, whilst the reference to Freud is impressive and all, you don't seem to get it. When you read this blog, it seems pretty damn obvious that those doing the writing here actually clearly love HM. In fact, clearly live and breath HM. Just the breadth of bands covered and the depth of knowledge of the whole spectrum of metal alone should give some indication that the humour is not ill-intended in the slightest. Anybody who can name their blog after a Piledriver song is more than OK in my book.

    And why not chuckle at some of these musicians. Get to some festivals and meet some metal bands (many are more than happy to chat to fans) and you'll find that many don't take themselves all that seriously either. With the exception of Joey DeMaio, of course.

  13. misfits - i care.

    if i'm not mistaken, "lucho" means "warrior". i know this because i've seen Nacho Libre.

    i.e. lucho metales = metal warrior.

    if lucho metales were a real name, i'm sure lucho would be justified in bearing it. but it ain't.

    i check MI on the regular for laughs, though i'm no more than paje metales (that's supposed to be "page", as in sancho panza). but i'm pretty sure he's called rick. check out the properties of that pic of him and that handsome devil mortiis for proof.

    therefore, i think lucho played in toxodeth. soulseek revealed a surprising number of toxodeth fans, so i've downloaded "mysteries". it's crap. but people thrice their age produce significantly worse crap, and in the present at that, so there's no reason to be self-conscious about it. kudos to them kids.

  14. You're right on with the insight that a point comes when you realize your metal heroes are actually just normal guys, and not cartoon heroes from another planet. That is one of the bummers about getting older; this reality hit me somewhere around 25 when I realized I was the same age or older than the people in the newer bands I liked. None the less, the Metal lives on in my heart.

  15.'re right. the difference between 14 and 11 years old is huge when you think about it. that sounds funny to say, but its true. what makes the gap perhaps greater is that, i lived in a country where (at the time) the best we could find were dubbed copies of tapes (fifth generation if you were lucky) that sometimes had photocopies (third generation) of the covers from the cassettes. no videos, no magazines or anything like that. no context. these were all alien things. as a result, i thought the guys really were pretty evil dudes. i certainly could make out that the guys is anthrax seemed like fun loving guys (shorts, skateboards etc), but bands like venom seemed so obscure, as did bands like sabbat, bathory and the like. for that matter napalm death, who i first heard in 1998 seemed outlandish as well. it's hard to explain how insanely isolated we were, and how absolutely out of context all that music was for us. i didn't speak the language, so i didn't even know that some venom song names were straight up stupid. imagine my surprise when i figured out that the SOD album title was a bit of an insult (however jokingly it was done) about the very fact i didn't speak the language! oops. i had a backpatch on my jean jacket that said "speak english or die" and i didn't even know what it said! i knew SOD weren't evil dudes...but i thought that whoever played on bathory records was probably pretty serious, and perhaps a bit dark.

    having said all that, its also possibly true that i was a somewhat gullible and stupid kid. i'm also very open to that possibility.

    the depth of the discourse in this blog, considering the topic it deals with is odd. good, but odd.

  16. aggg tis an essay contest

  17. I'm pretty sure that the guy standing beside Mortiis isn't Lucho/Richard/Whoever. That photo is just a random google search image depicting some guy named Rick Danger who hosts a goth radio show standing alongside Mortiis.

    well . . . at least I hope Lucho isn't Rick Danger. If so, then I'll experience a "shocking revelation" that will lead me heartbroken and angry with the mythological metal world that I have created.

  18. if you don't think king diamond in a nascar hat is funny, i don't know what to tell you. maybe you should listen to dream theater or something because you obviously have no sense of humor.

  19. since this is an all-out essay fest, let me chip in with one of my own.

    in order to fully comprehend what lucho is saying, you need to come from a similar sociogeological background. i grew up in fuckin' yugoslavia, and although nearly not as metal as he is, i can relate 100%. his words tug at my heartstrings.

    dubbing hissy, 5th generation tapes for the n-th time was our everyday reality. which made even dream theater sound like the meatshits. i too barely spoke any english, but i wrote "speak english or die" on my cheapo skate and drew two SOD skulls (one with that army helmet on, the other with - a space helmet). with no internet, no MTV, only torn magazines and magnetized VHS tapes from older dudes on the block to go on, you were left to your own childish devices in forming a perception of the world of metal. lucho has already extensively described what the results looked like, so i won't bother.

    another thing: kids have a vivid imagination. combine that with an inherently limited grasp on reality, and what you get is equal parts comic and tragic. that's why you couldn't realize that 30-something dudes working unskilled jobs and writing lyrics about corpses from their mom's basement were in fact failures, and not some powerful evil figures you should look up to.

    which brings me to the final stage: disillusionment. it's a bitch and a half. your world comes tumbling down when you see your idols for what they really are. and i don't think it was the same for american kids. for them, the process was gradual. for us, it was pretty abrupt. and that requires some serious coming to grips with. you need to vent your pain, purge your demons. you need to say out loud/write about what you feel in order to come through to the other side. and since there's no dr. phil for aging metal fans, you get post like these. and it's okay, it's all about therapy.

    and laffs.

    okay, you can go now.

    p.s. damn, zachary. i really thought i was onto something there.

  20. "When you read this blog, it seems pretty damn obvious that those doing the writing here actually clearly love HM."

    "the reality is that i honestly don't care much about these people or their work at all, though i appreciate your insight. most of my thoughts about metal are in the past tense."

  21. chris you nailed it. i actually just remembered something. my brother and i didn't have a dual tape to copy tapes we actually resorted to playing a tape on one, and recording on another tape player through the mic. i remember setting pillows around the two tape players to keep the car honking and road noises from screwing up our new copy of a destruction tape that someone had let us borrow. which reminds me of yet another thing, my friend once made fun of this kid Ramon when we lived in florida, telling him that he was so poor growing up, that he probably played with rocks instead of toys. he was so mad for weeks. later on he told us, that had actually been true!!! Ramon was born in rural Nicaragua.

  22. chris + lucho, I love the stories! I was lucky enough to get into metal after I left the Balkans and quite a few years after either of you guys got into the music yourselves so my experience was pretty painless. One of patiently downloading songs for hours because my parents couldn't buy faster internet than the slowest modem. No biggie.

    Anyway, this blog makes me feel insanely and embarrassingly young.

  23. I love this blog. I think its good to see people for what they are and not 'idealize' them or 'romanticize' them. It happens with artists a lot, people idealize their artistic persona. But for this same idea I agree with Helm in a lot of respects. He says that when an artist engages in his artform, they become something beyond what they are as a human being. This is what performing is all about, about becoming something 'higher' in fact, that is one of the biggest purposes of art: creating beauty, which pleases our higher consciousness. Even porno-gore metal bands create an idealized version of grotesque and nihilism, which would be a total joke when you see the person talking to their mom or doing their laundry.
    But perhaps the biggest thing that I like about this blog is that it supports the idea to 'not take metal' or anything really, too seriously.

  24. Maybe I'm out of touch, but to think Lucho was in Toxodeth seems ridiculous considering Phantasms was rereleased feb of this year.

    He would probably admit it instantly if he was.

  25. PS I'm listening to Ecstasy of death as we speak.

  26. Taking everything 'not seriously' is exactly what all the other hipsters do. Sorry for stereotyping but it's kinda the defining trait and all. Sometimes its alright to align oneself with something and stick with it because they love it all the way through without bullshit or second guessing oneself.

    I don't see the point of reading this blog if it's not fueled by positive feelings (you might call me naive for taking this long to catch up) for things I personally love, and so I depart to leave you to your important demystification of Danzig and Glen Benton.

  27. helm, i think the heartache comes precisely because we did take it too seriously.

    i remember the first time i saw pantera's home video. i was dumbstruck upon realizing that phil, whose blown-up pic from VDoP was glued to the wall above my bed like wallpaper, was not in fact stronger than all, but a huge, pathetic, drunken dumbass. i walked away with a slight case of the PTSD that day. i still rock pantera when i blast my quads, but taking a lighter stand is simply a way to spare yourself the disappointment. a lighter stand allows you to like dumb things.

    i still sometimes take things too seriously, as i have a hard time separating the person from the art/persona. i just try not to look at the pics or read the lyrics and interviews anymore. i choose blissful ignorance.

  28. Here's the problem chris: Pantera were awful and it is not metal at large's fault that you looked up to them. There were - and are - bands that never betrayed what they were about and never disappointed. Perhaps each of us should concern ourselves with those that appeal to us still without any nostalgia and not pick flesh off of the bones of the corpses of our early teen affectations.

  29. here is another "the end of all evil" moment: earlier this year, i went to see a sabbat/onslaught (plus five or six retro-thrash bands) show in my hometown. when i was 15 in 1991, i really loved sabbat´s "dreamweaver" album. back then i thought that their mystical/pagan image was the coolest thing ever. at the show this year, 17 years later and having successfully graduated from metal stupidity, i couldn´t help noticing that all the guys in the (reformed)band were really tiny and looked like the biggest nerds. i had to laugh at the idea that these wusses were responsible for one of THE soundtracks of my youth. i imagine their own youth in an english town, getting their asses kicked every day by the local bad boys for being into esoteric literature and stuff.

  30. "successfully graduated from metal stupidity"

    they should sell shirts that say this.

  31. In early 1983, Venom were pretty much the most "evil" of all metal bands (seriously). They were doing an in-store appearance at Jon Z's record shop at the Rt. 18 flea market in NJ. It was somewhat disillusioning when I met those retards & realized that even my fat, greasy, sorry seventeen year old ass could have easily pummeled any one of those short, flabby, pasty Brits in about five seconds. They were about as "evil" as the Halloween pumpkins we cut out of orange construction paper back in grade school. Cronos was about five foot nothing & looked for all the world like an extremely unattractive middle-aged woman who ran her fingers through her hair after eating copious amounts of Cheetos. It was on that day that I realized that metal was equally as gay as any other art form regardless of the packaging & marketing. Didn't really make me like or enjoy it any less, however. I just took it all way less seriously.

    It was all just for shock value anyway, back then it was new & different to use overtly "satanic" themes in lyrics & artwork. Sure, it "shocked" & frightened the squares but those of us into it always knew how stupid it really was. Venom, King Diamond's dopey skull & his microphone holder made from "bones", Jeff Hanneman on the back of "Show No Mercy" holding what appears to be an upside-down cross made out of two rulers taped together & etc. It was always more funny than anything else, at least to me.

  32. I think when it comes to 'bands' like King Diamond & Danzig and other obviously laughable attempts to act scary and/or alpha male is as stupid as watching a hollywood production and adapting it to your own life. So you can be into horror movies, does that make you a serial killer/demon incarnation straight away? no it's all just the fantasy of exercising your inner demons. You don't see women getting into these sort of things because they rather fantasize about real things like fairy tale weddings and living happily ever after, it's encrypted into their own unique dna. that being said, I think it's fun to poke at such obvious male targeted themes such as ghouls and warrior personas, but when it strikes someone who still respects the 'artistry' of it the wrong way, watch out. I personally think that if you still get offended at people making fun of such obviously lame 'theme bands' like king diamond, Danzig & Manowar etc you don't deserve to be aknowledged at all. Venom had it's satanic stick but atleast the black metal album is something that had actually good songwritting and it's worth something in the whole scope of metal history, but that's not the case with all bands like that. So in the end this blog is really just a couple of kids that got into metal at a time when it wasn't as original or theatrically real anymore and they're realizing it's all a sham simply because the 'metal' was based on gimmicks not musical talent and originality. Real music stands the test of time and if you are no longer a heavy metal fan you were in it for the wrong reasons, but it's perfectly acceptable to poke fun at your obvious lack of good taste when you were young just don't dismiss the whole genre because you 'grew out of it'. Now go watch some more reality tv with the family and be glad your no longer an aknowledged a 'metalhead'.