Friday, April 24, 2009

Metal Archeology: Artifacts from a lifetime devoted to metal (Part 3)

Here we see a picture of graduate student Emily Thayer, hard at work uncovering my Gammacide 12".

Metal Archeology. When I first coined the term, I was merely joking around. Today, at least four prominent colleges in the United States offer Masters programs in this very important field of study. As I've mentioned in past posts about this subject Metal Archeology can be explained in this manner:

Just as archeologists carefully dig through piles of rubble in search of artifacts that can give us further information about previous societies, I too have chosen to dig through my own personal rubble in search of answers and artifacts. After what has been nearly a lifelong commitment to metal (in one way or another), I have accumulated assorted artifacts which bring back memories of the past. I aim to dig deep into my past (a sometimes embarrassing past) in order to make sense of just who I was at the time. Part archeology dig, part psychotherapy session, I hope this series of ongoing posts will prove to be both insightful and therapeutic to our devoted readers. I shall call this new science: Metal Archeology.

Now that we're all on the same page, we can get started.

The item I will share wit you today is a bit unusual, but speaks volumes about a semi-legendary time in metal history. I hereby present to you, the autographed promotional picture of Chicago's not-so-legendary band Stygian. Not to be confused with the current band by the same name, who use an amazingly similar logo, this Stygian was a band who were signed to David T Chastain's label. Don't know who David Chastain is? Don't worry, you're not alone. Let me put it this you know what's sadder than a pathetic riff-orama obsessed guitar-hero douche like Steve Vai or Yngwie Malmsteen? about a third rate guitar demi-god from Cincinnati Ohio who never really hit it big. That, my friends, is David T Chastain. If you want to see and hear him jam out, watch this. But more importantly, here's the picture that this whole post is devoted to:

The coveted, signed Stygian promo picture.

Do these youngsters have no shame? Not only did they steal the band's name...but the logo is also very similar. I'm sure the guys in the Stygian will be glad to hear that they had some influence on someone. It will probably cheer them up, as they continue to mop toilets in an office building during third-shift.

Like other objects from my metal collection which I have shared with you in the past, this one was also found in a box of crap that my mom finally begged me to move out of her house. Why on earth she wouldn't want to hang on to my signed Obituary drumsticks, signed Stygian promo pictures or home made Morbid Angel shirt for decades is beyond me. Her loss, your gain.

About the picture
After I found this magnificent specimen mixed in with other metal debris, I had to think for a second in order to remember where it came from. Then it all came rushing back. It came from the Milwaukee Metal Fest, which my brother and I went to in both 1992 and 1993. I'm not sure which one this picture from...but it really doesn't matter. What matters is that the fucking thing is autographed bitches! Hell yes!

Milwaukee Metal Fest
I feel like this fest should one day get its own post, since my brother and I certainly have enough memories to write a whole lot about it. For now, I'll try to tell you a few things quickly. I remember driving for hours to get to the two day fest. The venue had two stages, each starting as early as like 10am, and going until like 2am. I remember my brother and I standing there looking at a schedule to see what bands would play each stage and when. Deciding which band to see was a tough decision. The conversations between the two of us probably went something like this: "Well, Macabre will be playing upstairs, but Intenal Bleeding will be downstairs, and that will overlap with Broken Hope...oh no! What do we do?"

Held at the Eagles Ballroom, the fest was a godamned zoo, insanely disorganized but well worth it back then. To see that many metal fans, and that many bands was amazingly rewarding to a youngster like me. Throw in the ability to check out merch from the biggest names in metal...labels like Wild Rags, Grindcore Records and the like...and I was a happy camper. On the other hand, the super long drive sucked, we were broke as hell...and I certainly remember reaching a point of overload. Some of the bands that played there (aside from the ones I just mentioned) were: Brutal Truth, DRI, Morbid Angel, Biohazard, AC, Downset, Slayer, Overkill, Testament, Cannibal Corpse, Dogstarr (yes, the Keaneu Reeves band), Anacrusis, Suffocation, Exhorder, Cancer and so many more that I could go on and on for days. If you were there and remember some of the smaller bands, please feel free to remind me. I know there were tons of Wild Rags bands that I'm forgetting.

Outside the venue. It was in this parking lot that my brother bought a sweet Impetigo shirt from Richard C of Wild Rags Records. Richard was lying and saying he wasn't Richard C, in fear or being jumped by the many people in attendance who he owed money to. Like most attendees, we parked around the back during the fest.

This is where the larger bands played, which was upstairs. It was here that Slayer put on a "meh" inducing performance. I can just imagine the architect who designed the beautiful classical details in this ballroom thinking to himself "ah yes, one day Brutal Truth will play in this fanstastic space...I shall make this the grandest of all grand ballrooms"

I remember Tom, the guy who we went to the Fest with, smoking pot as he drove his old, beat up BMW 3 Series through Illinois. As Tom drove, and smoked joints that he kept in his fanny pack, he would hold his right hand out mid-air, and quickly motion as though he was signing a check, quickly flicking his wrist to and fro. We later found out that this was his version of air-drumming at high speeds. It took about six hours of driving through Illinois for us to figure this out.

I remember taking a large cooler in the trunk, filling it with ice, and storing our newly purchased records inside the cooler (protecting them with zip lock bags) while we watched even more bands play.

When A.C. played, Seth insisted that the whole audience be quiet...if not, they would not play another song. Everyone got quiet, but a kid towards the front kept talking, not having heard Seth's instructions. Suddenly, and with perfect aim, Seth threw his mike with amazing speed and precission, like a godamned harpoon. It hit the kid square in the face and almost knocked him out. It was pretty funny. Many years later, I began to tell this very story to the members of a band that we were touring with in the late 90's. The drummer, began to look bummed as I told the story. He suddenly blurted out "It was me, okay okay, it was me. Jesus, please don't tell the whole story." He was 14 when it had happened, and he was there with his dad. He was talking to him as Seth went on and on about everyone being quiet. His dad had not wanted him to go to the fest, since it was far away and potentially dangerous. Eventually he agreed to go with him, to help keep him safe. They arrived as AC was playing, walked in as they were talking and within seconds got nailed in the face with a mic. It hit him so hard that he almost passed out.

I remember my brother yelling at a drunken DD Verni, telling him "your band blows!". DD looked like bummed upon hearing the news.

You're probably thinking that his jacket says "bass", because he plays the bass guitar. Not so. He enjoy bass fishing. If you're going to ask me why his bass guitar says "I need lunch", I can't help you...aside from guessing that playing in Overkill never really paid the bills, even if that bill was a $2 happy meal from Mc Donalds.

I remember Body Count playing, and the entire lighting rig starting to fall onto the audience. I'm talking about a huge truss system with lights, wires, sandbags, huge PA system...the whole thing. Mooseman and Ice T held the whole thing up so it wouldn't fall on the audeince. Nutty.

I remember Biohazard going on and on during their entire set about how Morbid Angel was a racist band. I remember Evan saying "Biohazard ain't goin' out like that" over and over again about the subject between songs. I was never really sure what he meant, since they used Morbid Angel's amps, left the stage and Morbid Agnel came on right after. Perhaps "aint goin out like that" is pseudo Brooklyn slang for "we will agree to play with them, use their amps, and hand them the guitar cables politely on our way off stage so they can plug in." That night, David Vincent played while wearing a black button-up shirt from the SS uniform. How very tasteful.

I remember Tom Araya thinking I was going to ask for an autograph as I ran into him in long hallway by the upstairs bathrooms. The hallway was desolate, and we were walking in oppostie directions. I had a Sharpie in my hand, which I was twirling around as he walked towards me. When he came closer to me, he nodded and held his out his hand as though to sign something with my Sharpie. I just kept walking, and thus created one of my favorite awkward moments ever. Tom stood there for a second as I walked on.

I remember really liking both Suffocation and Broken Hope live. While Suffocation was playing, a long-haired metal dude who was super skinny (metal dudes come in two sizes, rail thin and morbidly obese I think) was walking down the long set of steps on the side of the stage. As he was walking, he casually turned his head to the side as though to clear his throat. Instead he began to puke, and puke he did. The guy probably barfed about five bucket-fulls of thick goo, and he did so very, very quickly as he kept walking down the steps. He kept walking as he puked, as though nothing was happening. When he was done, he simply turned his head forward as though he hadn't just barfed out the entire contents of a small reservoir. To this day, when I'm sick and find myself almost in tears as a result of having to barf, I think about that guy. To pull off throwing up with such class is a really amazing skill. It was as though he was throwing up while wearing a top hat and a tuxedo. Talk about classy.

Back to the picture
Now that I think about it, there's not much to say about the picture. Stygian were one of the many local-ish bands that played early on in the day at those fests. While large bands had autograph sessions set up (like Slayer for example) in proper booth areas, smaller bands made up their own times, and stood around in a corner somewhere trying to do the same thing. While the times during which Slayer would do signings were advertised everywhere with banners, bands like Stygian would make 8.5 x 11 photocopies that would say:

Stygian meet and greet. We will be selling autographed cd's by the phone booth to the right of the bathrooms on the first floor at 6pm tonight.

It was extremely sad. Sure enough, at the scheduled time, you'd see the small local band standing there with their backpack full of tapes, with absolutely no one buying anything from them.

How did I get this picture?
I remember it very well. Shortly after the scheduled time when Stygian were supposed to be signing stuff, I walked by and saw them completely alone staring at the wall as people walked by them. I went by again only minutes after, and a bunch of these pictures were strewn all over the floor. The band members were gone. All the pictures were already autographed by the entire band, and had perhaps been thrown out in anger. I'm not sure why I picked one of them up, but I'm sure glad I did. Without it, perhaps I wouldn't have all these memories to share with you. My favorite thing about the picture is on the back. Scribbled on the back of the picture is the following:

Crucifier, was an American band from back then (who played the fest), and not he Brazilian thrash band which is around today, and has the same name. I don't know why, but apparently the members of Stygian were trying to remember how the band's name was spelled, or perhaps they were trying to point out to one another how the band's name could be spelled in order to be really close to "Lucifer". Maybe they were also thinking of the band Crucifer, who may have played also. Maybe it's kinda' like how in the sixth grade you figured out that "satan" and "santa" are really similar words...but have very different meanings. I picture the guys from Stygian sitting there getting all freaked out by the similarities. Much like a cat can be entertained by a ball of twine for hours, metal dudes can easily spend four days on two words like crucifier and crucifer.

Soon after those fests happened, I remember bringing them up all the time in conversations to people...even to people who knew little about metal. At the time, they seemed like the greatest godamned thing on earth. Today, after 17 years have passed since I first went to such a monstrosity, the memories are getting a bit hazy. I no longer talk about the bands I saw back then, much less care about them. Was anyone at those early Milwaukee Metal Fests? Tell us about it.

Today, I couldn't imagine driving even five minutes to see a band play. If a band wants to play for me, they'll have to play in my living room...and this would have to be a band I love. They would have to start at roughly 9pm, and be done by 10. If any band out there takes me up on are some groundrules. Be nice to my dog, play at a very, very low volume. Don't mess with my furniture, only play songs I know (none from a new album) and be open to the fact that I may change my mind about seeing you play before you hit a single note. Also, be careful not to bump into my TV or my new chair. That thing was expensive. Having said that, I'll be more than happy to have you host a meet and greet at my house. Just leave me an autographed picture, so I can add it to my collection.


  1. There was a band called Crucifer at the time, who was active at the time. I wouldn't be surprised if they were playing the same metalfest as Crucifier.

    Lots of confusion back then.

  2. They were even signed to Wild Rags you should know!

  3. I think you'll find that's it's David 'T' Chastain (as opposed to all the other David Chastains out there) - I'm surprised to see such a scholar of Metal Archeology slip up on such a well known topic...

    Never heard a note of the fucker's 'music', mind.

  4. I remember that Crucifier played, maybe Crucifer played as well? I absolutely know about the Wild Rags one (Crucifer)since I had their CD, but I honestly thought it was Crucifier that played at that one. They were also in Grand Belial's Key and some anti-semitic bands. Classy guys. who knows.

    regarding the T in Chastain's name...I thougth it was not imperative to put it in...but for you, just for you, i'll go back and edit the thing.

    1. Crucifier (US/PA) never played that fest. And yes we are classy.

  5. thank you - this is a 'peer-reviewed' journal after all...

  6. "It will probably cheer them up, as they continue to mop toilets in an office building during third-shift"

    HAHAHA, Lucho this post rules.

    i am guessing that Didi's bass says "i need lunch" because Overkill always tried to rep that they had punk roots and "i need lunch" is from the Dead Boys (also from NY).

  7. regarding the T in Chastain's name...I thougth it was not imperative to put it inthis is how i can tell you are a poser. he was ALWAYS referred to as david *T* chastain!

  8. Crucifier (the GBK connected one) is still around, and still playing shows.

    1. Hails brother. We are still active and preparing for a new album.

  9. "Here we see a picture of graduate student Emily Thayer, hard at work uncovering my Gammacide 12".

    That caption literally made my day a hundred times better.

  10. i'm glad the caption made your day better. owning that gammacide record usually makes me day worse.

    steve, i'm glad you see this blog for what it is. we take peer review seriously. We are all familiar with the fact that once highly-regarded journals (Journal of Applied Physiology..I'm looking at you) are taking this aspect less and less seriously. for one, take into account the whole ordeal between Dr Ed Coyle, and his work on VO2Max power out put at the university of texas. if that's not a sign of things to come...i don't know what is.

  11. Savage, you must be right about the Dead Boys thing. Boy, Overkill sure went on and on and on about their punk roots. sheesh...why? that would be like me endlessly bragging about how i was once a crackhore. i mean...good for them, but really, who cares?

  12. you guys should do a "series" of posts called "Milwaukee metalfest" for sure.

    also, bring back heavy metal real estate! one of my favs!

  13. My friend Andy plays in the band "Stygian", too.
    It's one of the most abused bandnames along with "Legion". However, his band's logo is different...

  14. My favorite post is "Sonic Violence: metal answer to Right Said Fred", absolutely. After that, the one disserting about the Hellwitch tank photo session...

  15. @Frank: did you use to play in Mortal Fungus?
    Great post Lucho!
    I remember back in the day reading an interview with members of Kreator talking shit about Morbid Angel for being nazis, while they were on a tour together + Paradise Lost.

  16. i just can't get over the fact that biohazard was calling someone out about being racist. i guess it's like homophobes secretly wishing their fists were kisses as they gaybash.

    at least metalfests didn't have all those damn workshops and abuse testimonials that i had to sit through at hardcore fests in the 90's. ugh.

  17. savage:
    i have some real estate stuff that i'm working on now. those things take forever to put together.

    I remember not getting much feedback on the Sonic Violence post. I can never tell when posts are succesful. Sometimes I get cocky, like Babe Ruth, and call a home run before I'm even on deck. I feel all good as I post, thinking I will surely earn a Pulitzer..and then it goes down like a lead singer.

    did you ever go to a hardcore fest that had "safe spaces" for women? that sort of thing? i may know the fests you are talking about. funny how such paths can make even those who believe in certain basic things to shake their head in disbelief.

  18. i know about Biohazard! does anyone remember how they used to talk about "american nazi pride" on their demo??!!


  19. i've always heard this stuff about biohazard, although i've never heard the songs. talk about confused...Evan is jewish! I blame it on what I call the "greater new york city distortion field"

  20. I have heard people accuse Morbid Angel of being nazis, but I always assumed that they had them confused with Malevolent Creation (another knee jerk "they're racist!!" band). I didn't know about the nazi uniform thing, but really, that's #100 on the list of "weirdest things dave vincent wore on stage in the late 90s".

  21. well... there isn't much debate about malevolent creation. if you drop the n-bomb in a song, you make it pretty easy to see where you stand.

  22. during that show (milwaukee metal fest), and their tour with Kreator and Paradise Lost, David Vincent rocked that shirt...including the SS pins on the shirt collar.

    as far as malevolent creation...yeah...the n-bomb kinda' settles that one. there was also the incident of the one guy wearing a swastika shirt during a show in europe. this was discussed in that amazing Grimoire interview way back when. apparently they didn't understand how germans may frown upon the shirt...but also that a swastika is actually illegal in germany. during that interview, the guy from grimoire kept asking the dude what it was like to have a guitar in the shape of a swastika...over and over again...which pissed him off to no end. gold.

  23. I went to Metalfest when Deicide headlined. I saw Old Skull, the punk band that had kids no older than 7 or 8 years old playing punk. A shitty band called Phantasam played early and sprayed the crowd with fake blood, pissing everyone off who had to walk around with that shit on them for the next 12 hours. I met Glenn Benton and laughed at how small he was. I met The Great Kat and pissed her off by telling her that Julieard sucked. I remember Cancer and Obituary playing. I had a headache at the end of the night.

  24. that must have been the year after i was there...what a line-up.

    i'm a bit ashamed to admit that i still remember one old skull song..gonna kill a dead eagle. oh boy.

  25. Oh man, Old Skull


  26. @ Misfits: yup, I'm in Mortal Fungus!!!

    @ Lucho: yesterday, after writing that, I re-read the Sonic Violence post, and you're right, only 12 comments. But I remember last year, after reading that I wasn't impressed at first, then the day after I happened being on vacation with my girlfriend, and often started laughing without apparent motivations causing her hatred!
    I just was thinking about that Sonic Violence/Right Said Fred picture + that hilarious headline.
    Sometimes, the simpliest things are the ones that make me laugh the most! ;-)

  27. just gout back from a backyard metal show in south-central los angeles.

    I saw:
    tons of white hi-tops and and EXHUMER -WHIPLASH FULL BACKPATCH.

    oh my god man so much stuff to point out. gotta take a cam next time.

  28. 1992 had Mythic, Baphomet, and Impetigo, too -- I think.

    Mortal Fungus? It's so completely nonsensical that I love it.

  29. Also, yeah, we need a total recap of your Milwaukee Metal Fest experiences. Just bring your own tape recorder to your next therapy session.

  30. Cthulhupal,
    south central? nice. you need a camera. please. we'd love to post some nice shots from field photographers who are still in the trenches. if i posted pictures of my daily life, you'd all fall asleep.

    so glad i was able to bring you some laughs!

  31. Lucho, brilliant post, I love these Metal Archaeology ones. I remember always wanting to go to the Milwaukee Metal Fest, but never having the cash to do so. We had to make do with the Grindcrusher tours and Campaign for Musical Destruction tours. It seemed to me at the time the Milwaukee Metal Festival was the only place were loads of bands played, now there is so many festivals serving the metal world it's untrue. I can't decide about going to either Bloodstock Open Air, Wacken, or Stabbed To Death By The Roadside festivals...

    I also know what you mean about boring people with stories of gigs and shows that the listener has no idea about. I do it all the time, until I catch myself.

  32. cthulhupal:

    punch all those spoiled-ass kids and spit in their faces. tell them exumer sucks.

  33. okay sounds good. I will absolutely make sure to take a camera next time. I will take pictures of everything and if anyone asks, I'll say its for a bands myspace. I was about a head taller than just about everyone there (im 6'2) so I had a great view of everything. My girlfriend went to see her friends band play and as soon as she told me she was in soth central L.A., and mentioned that there were 5 year old kids running around playing, bumping into people, and a lady selling beer to kids out of a shopping cart, i knew I HAD to see it for myself, and I must say, it wasnt pretty.

    I was told of a backyard metal show coming up in compton, as well as another one in south-central.

    The bands played under a metal awning next to a parked car, and on the way in, there was a camaro parked in the driveway on cinderblocks.

    Also, the power cable was run into a room of the back which was occupied by a group of African American people. BLACK PEOPLE supplied the power to a metal show in south central, and they were totally cool with at least a hundred, drinking - smoking, predominantly mexican kids getting wasted right outside their door. I have to say it was really surreal. Also, there was this older mexican guy with a tony iommi handlebar moustache, wearing a Obituary shirt with a poncho over it. Also there was a kid walking around with EXACTLY the hair Joey Belladonna had in the early anthrax days, That frizzy hair with bangs and the top-ramen-esque waves. everytime he walked by i would tap my girlfriend on the shoulder and point and laugh uncontrollably and she didn't understand why.

    I mentioned the exhumer backpatch because, aparrently the hubub at that show was everyone was going to this Thrasho de Mayo metal show which Exhumer is headlining and its their first time in the u.s. or some crap like that.

    Lucho, I honestly will attend more of these and post the images here. I usually drink when I'm out seeing bands play, but had I drank, I would have been oblivious to the madness. Once I do I'll try to compose a guest post with best of the worst, of backyard metal shows now, or we can collaborate on a post on metal shows now, compared to then.

  34. Yep, Savage's right. Dead Boys. Pretty sure Old Skull's parents were in the Wisconsin early 90's band Tar Babies.

  35. I choose to believe that the words on the back of the photo actually say "Crucifer Crucifies" as though Crucifer had such contempt for Stygian that the straight up tagged their promo material in disgust.

  36. I was at the metalfest where Deicide was headlining (Legion tour). I actually have a post about it on my blog:

    Good times..seriously!

  37. Haha...Biofuckinghazard. I remember seeing them live a few years back in Springbilly, Missouri. Opening was a band called Violent Karma. Perhaps the worst band I've ever heard. They started the show screaming something along the lines of,'you think we are racist? Fucking right We Are!' Then Biohazard came out and didn't say a word about that. They just started playing horrible songs like "Five Blocks to the Subway".

  38. Scot...i'm with you. Stygian got clowned on by crucifier!

  39. This is Brian, guitarist from Crucifer.

    Crucifer played MMF in 1993, with Flotsam, Slayer, Body Count, Mercyful Fate and others. I remember that cheapo Richard C. bumming a taxi ride and breakfast off his own band...we had to pay our own expenses. What a letdown it was to meet him and realize what kind of person he was. We still have no idea how many CDs we actually sold.

    I don't recall Crucifier being on the bill, I think we would have been more aware of them, unless they played way earlier than us.

    I don't remember much about our set that night, but I do remember tuning down another half step to sound heavier before going on. Does anyone have video of this? if so, you can send an email to: