Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Luchadores Metaleros: Metal Infiltrates Wrestling in Mexico

This post is not about wrestling or who’s the current WWE Champion (even though we all know it should still be Orton). It’s not about how lame wrestling is/was/has been in the US, or any of that. Please keep the wrestling specific comments to yourself. Thank you.

It’s safe to say that there’s always been a loose connection between pro-wrestling and metal. Maybe it’s the attitude, the "look" or maybe it’s the fact that both are heavily embraced by ignorant trailer-dwelling Americans. Some of the wrestlers in the US have/had some pretty metal gimmicks. Take The Road Warriors, the Brothers of Destruction, that clown Sting (who looks like he belongs in a shitty black metal band) and others. Then, there’s always Triple H and his Motorhead connection, Balls Mahoney, who often sports metal shirts and there's even that hot metal chick a few years back. Well, all that is nothing compared to what you can find the CMLL and AAA in Mexico.

The Road Warriors, who GWAR basically ripped-off

I gotta admit, I had a huge crush on Lita back in the day

Kane and The Undertaker. Really, how more metal can you get?

Balls Mahoney is a huge (no pun intended) King Diamond fan

Let me start with my favorite wrestler in Mexico, La Parka (a.k.a. L.A. PARK). You can’t deny that’s a metal-ass costume. I don’t know what’s up with the male symbol on his wrists, but I guess gay can also be metal?

Cuervo, Damian 666, Espiritu and Ozz look like a black metal band from the mid-west. The best part is that without ever touching a musical instrument in their lives, they’d probably get signed to some label called “Northern Trees Without Leaves Records” based on looks alone. We'll look at these "hermanos" in detail below.

Espiritu has the Dark Throne logo on his face and lots of pentagrams on his gear. Survey says... METAL!

OK, I'll admit Cuervo is more goth than metal, but... OK, you got me I have no excuse. Sorry

I don't give two shits how tough you think you are, if you run into this dude in an alley after a Brujeria show in Monterrey , you will need to buy new underoos, 'cuz you will shit your fucking pants. Damian 666 is pure evil. Those nasty keloid scars don't help eigther.

Ozz is as metal as they get. My theory is that between bible burnings, Glen Benton takes time off, flies to Mexico, puts on velvet pants, paints his face blue, and rubs up on sweaty dudes in the ring.

This is El Pancho. He might not look very metal, but he’s wearing bullet belts and that’s pretty fucking metal in my book of things that are metal.

Cibernetico looks like the singer of a German thrash band in the 80’s. Minus the gay contact lens in his left eye, of course. To complete the German thrasher look, he may wanna borrow El Pancho's bullet belts and put some pants on. Preferibly tight faded jeans. But here's more Cibenetico for you:

Hey, Pedro, ManOwar called, they want their homo-erotic look back.

This lady from Jalisco’s wrestling name is Dark Angel. I thought I’d throw he in here just for Gene Hoglan's Balls.

Here’s a pretty lady. This lovely beauty is named Diabolica. Pretty metal name, that’s for sure. Plus, she’s hefty and reminds me of my first girlfriend, who had a Benediction tape and wore a Sepultura T-shirt.

This gentleman is Halloween. Of course it would be WAY more metal had his name been Helloween, but I’ll take Halloween. Unfortunately Halloween suffers from Rob Flynn's Disease. Note the multi-colored braids and cut-off shorts. He’s also wearing an anti-drug tee. Sorry, hermano, you are a poser-o!

Arguably this ‘muchacho’ is the most metal of all wrestlers in Mexico. Why? His fucking name is Heavy Metal, that’s why! He’s basically a poor man’s Glen Danzig. Which is pretty bad considering that Danzig is a poor man’s… I don’t know what, but you know what I mean. Heavy Metal’s got an Apple sticker on his axe, which is not very metal, but he’s got a scorpion tattooed on his chest, which is WAY metal! Actually all his tatts are pretty brutal. By brutal I mean shitty.

Jerry Estrada tried out for Stryper in ’87 and upon rejection he turned to his first love: looking gay by wearing one cross earring and fringe. Oh, and he also started wrestling in Mexico.

The gimmick of Los Porros (loosely translated The College Jocks) is obviously lost in translation. Maybe it was lost way before anyone cared to translate it. I just thought they looked like the Gothic Slam reunion in 2013.

Maybe Finland's Lordi (the worst fucking band in history) are huge in Mexico. I don’t know but they sure as hell left their footprint in Mexican wrestling. Check out these guys:

Los Vipers

Los Cabernicolas

Los Rudos de la Galaxia (maybe a little Ace Frehley circa '83 influence in there?)

In case you forgot what they look like, here’s Lordi (the worst fucking band in history, did I already say that?):

I’m not sure if these guys are exactly metal, but Monster and Chucky are pretty fucking scary. By scary I mean pathetic. In more ways than one. Monster looks like a budget version of the Crimson Ghost with a green wig. Like so many other things in this post, Chucky’s just plain creepy. Oh, yeah, midgets rule.

Mister Aguila looks like a young Max Cavalera. This is the kind of friends I would have given my right arm for, when I was a teen. This guy just looks metal. His pants are ripped by the crotch. Watch out ladies!

I’m not sure WTF is going on here. I think KISS threw up in Mexico in '85 and the barf took shape, came to life and turned into the Night Queens. Great name, amigos! The one guy is REALLY into keeping his identity a secret (I would too if I was in this freak show), so he wears a mask over his make-up. Nice.

This dude’s name is Nitro. That alone is metal. Add to that the skulls in his pants and we got one metal Mexican.

I think Sangre Chicana is a lost member of Testament and Joey DeMaio’s younger brother.

Do I have to even explain why Perro Terrible is metal as shit? What I’d like an explanation on is the “brick wall” and why the audience is sitting on the floor.

The reason Tormenta is on the post is ‘cuz her name reminds me of “Tormenta” Ventor of Kreator.

The following wrestlers might not be super-duper metal, but I think they are worth highlighting for pure comedy value:

These guys’ gimmick is that they are American. So, obviously, so everyone hates them. Their name is The Beauty and The Beast… but who’s who?

Trio Fantasia is very disturbing. Grown men dressed with tight fitting clothes to attract young children. No wonder Mexico is still considered a "developing" country.

La Diva, has to be the awesomest female wrestler in Mexico. Look at her! Her finishing move: The Sitdown Splash. I’m sure you can imagine what it is… yeah she sits on her oponent’s face. That's a lot of woman. Too many tacos and burrrrrritos, girl!

Please meet Ke Monito (loose translation: "What a Little Monkey". That’s not a joke) He’s 2’7” and a clear example of why Mexican Lucha will always be better than any sad attempts by Americans to make greased-up muscle douche-bags with long hair be entertaining. Here's Ke Monito in “action”. Enjoy!

I know I said this post wasn't about wrestling, but I couldn't leave without sharing this video with you guys. Highlights of Japanese and Mexican wrestlers. I know this is not very metal, but some of these fuckers are amazing.

Praise Christ: A brief overview of Jesus metal

Although I am anything but a Christian, for some reason I've always had a soft spot for the sweet sounds of Christ's love put to music. Here are some of the most notable examples I've come across, but please add your own in the comments!

Even by 1990s thrash metal standards, Mortification were stunningly unfashionable

The first time I heard Mortification was about 15 years ago on one of those shitty early 90s death metal comps, I think it was "At Death's Door." They had one track on it, "Scrolls of the Megilloth," which was absolutely crushing and to this day of the best death metal songs I have ever heard. That song was so great that I made the mistake of paying $18 for the full length at some Christian bookstore in Mount Vernon, Washington. It turns out that the rest of their catalog is absolutely awful, third-rate death/thrash along the lines of Demolition Hammer or something but much worse.

Verdict: 2/5 crucifixes

Christian bands have never been shy about charging exorbitant prices for their merch, and at $17 for 2lbs, Tourniquet coffee is no exception!

I am pretty sure that my introduction to Tourniquet was in some guitar magazine back in 1993 or so. I think they had a feature on Jesus metal or something. Anyway, Tourniquet had long song titles like "Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance" so I thought they would sound like Carcass, but they definitely did not. However, their brand of progressive thrash for Christ was very good nonetheless, with outstanding drumming. But the best thing about Tourniquet is their coffee! (Thanks to reader Keith Kahn Harris for the tip!)

Verdict: 3/5 crucifixes

Note the fancy cuffs on the guy's shirt on the bottom left- you have to admire that kind of attention to detail!
I love Stryper so much that once I looked up Isaiah 53:5, which is the verse that they quote on all their covers and stuff (King James):
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Well I guess that explains their outfits! But look how they fucked it up in the NIV. Someone on the NIV translation staff should have been on the lookout for potential conflicts like this, because now Stryper's whole image doesn't make any sense at all!!!
...the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Anyway, people who read the NIV are morons who can't be saved so who cares.

Verdict: 4/5 crucifixes

Believer were nothing less than the finest thrash metal band of the 1990s. Well, perhaps tied with Forced Entry and Dark Angel for that title. In any case, they were great and if you don't listen to them on the regular, it is highly likely that you're a poser. All of their albums are excellent, but "Sanity Obscure" is maybe the best, complete ass-raping thrash (for Christ). Their third album, "Dimensions" is also excellent although it is much different. It sounds exactly like Earth Crisis, only the lyrics are all about killing sinners in the name of Jesus instead of "the cow, the cat, the fetus or the rat."

Verdict: 5/5 crucifixes

This is a photo of Devastation, but really it could be any generic 1990s death metal band, and would you know any different?

The first 45 seconds or so of this record are fucking sweeeeeet, one of the most brutal thrash metal mosh jams ever. But then it's just song after song of wretched, generic riff-salad death/thrash that makes Six Feet Under seem refreshingly original. Many years ago I saw the hardcore band Overcast, and the guitarist was wearing a Devastation long sleeve. That's when I knew he wasn't a poser. Overcast was a great band.

Verdict: 1/5 crucifixes (except for the intro which is 5/5 crucifixes)

Vengeance Rising
We've already covered this band quite extensively. Roger Martinez is a lunatic. Most of their songs are excruciatingly dull and they are chronic chopaholics (all their riffs sound like "CHOPPA CHOPPA CHOPPA CHOP"). I strongly suggest not listening to this awful band, although the story of his descent into insanity and conversion to Satanism is mildly entertaining.

Verdict: 2/5 crucifixes

Impending Doom
This is a very bizarre band that plays Christian wigger slam metal. As is typical of Christian bands, they have very nice, expensive equipment, 4 different managers, and 900 different (extremely expensive) merch items but yet I have never met anybody that listens to them. From their Myspace:
Q. What is Gorship?
A. Gorship is our way of worshiping God through our gore sounding music.
Verdict: 3/5 crucifixes

For further reading
Other popular Christian metal bands include Slayer, Black Sabbath and Death, but I am guessing you are already familiar with these artists. If not, you aren't missing much, they're all very boring and generic although Slayer does have a few good songs like "Dead Skin Mask" and "Silent Scream." Listen to Malignant Rupture and Gut instead.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Video Retroview: Megadeth's "Hangar 18"

A candid shot of yours truly (circa 1990) enjoying the premiere airing of the Hangar 18 video on Headbanger's Ball.

I can remember it like it was yesterday. The world premiere of the new Megadeth video was set to air during Headbanger's Ball, and I couldn't wait. My memories are just as vivid of those of earlier generations who gathered around the television to watch The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. It was a momentous occasion. At the time, I was not a huge Megadeth fan, but much had been made in earlier episodes of The Ball about the large budget and special effects that would surely make this video a classic. Mustaine had talked about the video basically being a sci-fi short movie. As a young man, the thought of a cool sci-fi/metal short film must have been intoxicating. Then again, what the hell did I know...I wore Brut cologne in a misguided attempt to attract the opposite sex. Anyway, an entire episode was actually devoted to a behind the scenes look at the making of the video, so this was a big deal. The video for Holy Wars was already out, and although not as heavy as some of the music I listened to at the time, the high rifforama factor of the tune was certainly pleasing to my ears.

So, about the video...I'm not sure why, but in the early 90s metal bands started a trend that would later take over hip-hop videos all together, that of making us believe that their video was more like a full motion picture than a simple video clip for their latest single. Yes, Michael Jackson's Thriller came many years before this, but that lineage was broken and thus not influential to the bloated production that was Metallica's "The Unforgiven" (unequivocally the champion of pseudo artistic video-as-film garbage, especially the uncut 12 minute version). In any case, much like anything that Mustaine has ever done, the introduction in the Hangar 18 video is ridiculous and unnecesary. Sadly, it also plays second fiddle to Metallica's attempt at the very same thing (that being, The Unforgiven's 10 minute video intro). Simply not as lengthy or retarded as Metallica's, the intro nevertheless kicks things off strongly and leads us down a path of stupidity that only Dave Mustaine and the Nike AIR hightop wearing gang could bring us.

Highlights to look out for:

Vic, Megadeth's rip-off of Iron Maiden's Eddie, makes an appearance and speaks for the first time in history. Turns out, his voice is simply that of a production assistant through a cheap vocal harmonizer. Though we all thought that Vic was down with Megadeth, and he was a rebel at heart, here we see him wearing a suit, and leading an army of third rate actors in a campaign against Megadeth. Also note that he's getting help from other military fat-cats who seem evil since they smoke cigars. Man, the 80s and early 90s were all about military and political fat-cats. I don't know if I want Vic to be the guy to pick up the phone at 3am in the White House, the guy can't even see due to his permanently riveted sunglasses. Note his awful skeleton hands, which are constantly fused in the same position throughout the video, and clearly being held by the actor in his sleeves. They remind me of the hooks that kids wear with pirate costumes.

The large budget that Mustaine had talked about in multiple interviews is nowhere to be seen. Rather than spending a few hundred bucks to get an exterior shot of a field, they used the director's HO scale model. This screenshot may be dark, but when you watch the video (below) you'll see what I mean. Perhaps Mustaine got an advance for the video, and it magically went up his nose.

Much in the way that George Lucas employed Ewoks as lighthearted, Muppet-like characters in the Star Wars triology, here too we encounter this lil' guy, a budget E.T. made out of silly putty. Unlike the other monsters we are about to encounter, this fun loving alien means us no harm. Word to the wise, don't get attached...you'll see what the US government (under Vic's control) has in store for him.

Ed Wood would have been so proud. Clearly, the production staff raided storage warehouses at multiple studios and "borrowed" costumes for the shoot. Here we see an extra from Mos Eisley's cantina scene.

This alien was so embarrassed to be featured in this video that he put his fins over his eyes in order to not have to watch.

Just look at his mouth! Mustaine does a killer Rambo impression. During the Clash Of The Titans tour, he would have Kerry King and Scott Ian in stitches for hours. He'd grab a Megadeth bandana from the boxes of unsold merchandise, roll it up and put it around his head....then he'd repeat the following endlessly doing his best Rambo: "Nothing is over! Nothing! You just don't turn it off! It wasn't my war! You asked me, I didn't ask you!"

Look closely, you'll see the most anti-semitic moment in video history. Right as Marty Friedman is playing a solo, an alien with exactly the same hair as Marty is escorted by authorities. Perhaps most insulting is the gigantic nose that the alien has. Honestly, this is the sort of thing that should be investigated. Mustaine can be such a prick. This is totally uncalled for. No wonder Marty left the band. Can you blame him?

Throughout the whole video we see brief shots of this shirtless girl (with her back to the camera) being walked through the maze that is Vic's top-secret Airforce base. The director chose to use her as an ongoing theme that is woven through the video's fabric in an Ingmar Bergman-like fashion. Toward the very end of the video, the girl finally turns around, and rather than seeing what every male watching Headbanger's Ball wanted to see...we are confronted with a half-robot, half-lady creature wearing leather pants. Booooo! She's a robot? I thought this facility held aliens? The video's treatment really should have been scrutinized a bit more. This was the biggest disappointment in the whole video, even bigger of a disappointment than Vic's skeleton hands.

Look, I warned you not to get attached to the little muppet. The special effects team created only one alien creature that is not a human in a suit. As such, they had to get their milage out of this sucker...so if one creature was gonna get the Dremel drill, it had to be this one.

They seriously must have paid a fortune to rent this crane, because it's shown in like every other godamned shot. You'll see.

Again, the director's passion for HO-scale model trains pays off big. I've never understood why on earth the members of Megadeth were being taken out in these containers at the end of the video. They were just playing to the entire workforce at the base, and the aliens, but now they are captured and frozen? Are they aliens? I'm so confused.

This video was of substantial importance at the time to Megadeth, not only because it showed the depth that the band was capable of, not only because it featured more guitar solos than Mustaine's failed stints in rehab, but also because of the following events:

Inspired by the subject of this song and its video, Nick Menza and subsequent Megadeth drummers decided to convert their once humble drum kits into replicas of the spaceship that was rumored to have crashed in Roswell, New Mexico. Note the floating bass drums, which mimic the propulsion mechanisms of the the craft.

In this picture, Dave Mustaine accepts the prestigious "Horrible Production Values In A Rock Video" award from Singapore's President Sellapan Rama.

And now, the masterpiece that made it all possible.