Dropdead / Full of Hell / Noisem / Plague Widow / RAD @ Midtown Barfly, Sacramento, CA 08/24/14

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My second show in Sacramento was in some ways a throwback to my younger years in Des Moines; I used to walk down to Hairy Mary’s by myself to see shows because my sorry ass didn’t have a car and to make matters worse I didn’t know anyone else who gave a shit about the underground.  Not being much of a grindcore fan, my wife decided to sit out Sunday’s matinee at the Midtown Barfly, and as a result I found myself flying solo once again, which is always a delightfully awkward experience given that I’m not exactly the most outgoing person out there.  Also, many of those shows I hoofed it to back in the day were heavy on grindcore bands such as Black Market Fetus, Strong Intention, Catheter, Entrails Massacre and Phobia, to name but a few, so I was excited to experience a show in a similar vein in my new city.  A complete and utter lack of social skills doesn’t matter much when you’re being pummeled at a million miles an hour by some of the most vicious and unrelenting music out there.

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Destruction / Krisiun / Exmortus @ Wooly’s, Des Moines, IA 04/09/14

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When it comes to metal shows in Des Moines, it’s either feast or famine.  The month of April is proving to be quite the feast, boasting tour stops from genre luminaries such as Broken Hope, The Lurking Corpses and Embryonic Devourment.  But the show I’ve probably been looking forward to the most was a three-headed beast; a headlining set from legendary German thrashers Destruction, supported by Brazilian brutal death metal trio Krisiun and SoCal up-and-comers Exmortus.

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Broken Hope @ Vaudeville Mews, 04/03/2014

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Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to finally check a few bands off my old school death metal bucket list.  The likes of Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel and Grave (I sadly missed Deicide and Suffocation when they were here :( ) have violated the asshole of the Midwest with their unholy presence, and it’s always gratifying to finally experience these bands in the live setting after having coveted their studio albums for all this time.  On a cold, rainy Thursday night in Des Moines, I was happy to add Chicago’s original overlords of brutal death metal Broken Hope to that list, and goddamn if they didn’t deliver the goods and then some.

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Finally… Danzig.

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At this point, my status as a Glenn Danzig maniac is far beyond well-documented.  Between the Misfits, Samhain and Danzig, I’ve devoted more digital ink to the man’s music than to any other artist I’ve covered here at THKD.  The last time I took stock of my music collection, the Evil Elvis dominated it with over twenty releases, not to mention all the t-shirts and other random paraphernalia I own.  My one and only tattoo is based loosely on “Thirteen,” the song Danzig wrote for Johnny Cash (my favorite metal singer meets my favorite non metal singer).  Cosmo Lee, the founder of Invisible Oranges, even based a post around my admission that I celebrate Danzig’s entire catalogue in my review of 2010’s excellent Deth Red Sabaoth.
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Ghost @ Mill City Nights, Minneapolis, MN 5/4/13

photo (1)To say that I was highly anticipating seeing Ghost in the flesh would probably be the understatement of the year.  Their 2010 debut full length Opus Eponymous has been in near constant rotation since its release, and this year’s Infestissumam already has a place in my year-end top five all but locked up.  There is something about their combination of Luciferian lyrics, infectious yet hard-rocking pop hooks and outlandish visuals that’s incredibly appealing to this old fan of KISS, Alice Cooper and King Diamond, artists with which Ghost clearly shares a lineage.
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Mutilation Rites / Havok @Vaudeville Mews, Des Moines, IA 11/11/12

First thing’s first; yes, Skeletonwitch did headline this show. However, I opted not to cover them in this review for a variety of reasons. First and foremost because I’ve been following the band since 2007’s Beyond the Permafrost and wanted to enjoy them as a fan rather than a “journalist;” snapping photos, taking notes and trying to remember setlists often feels a lot like “work,” and no matter how enjoyable that work may be, it isn’t the same as just watching and enjoying a band for no other reason than pure entertainment. Secondly, does Skeletonwitch really need another live review, considering the heights they’ve achieved within the metal underground in terms of popularity (especially when their current tour is almost over with)? I’m thinking the answer is “no,” so I decided it might be more rewarding from the “journalist” perspective to focus on Mutilation Rites and Havok, the young and hungry opening bands who might have a bit more use for the exposure.

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Early Graves @ Vaudeville Mews, Des Moines, IA 10/21/12

The last time I wrote about Early Graves, it was with a heavy heart. A planned review of their 2010 album Goner became a lamentation of vocalist Makh Daniels, whose life had been taken in a van accident while the band was out on tour. I assumed it was to be the first and last time I would write about the devastating young quintet who had shown so much promise. However, the remaining members of Early Graves regrouped, making the undoubtedly difficult decision to soldier on with new screamer John Strachan (also of The Funeral Pyre) at the helm, proving the old cliche that you just can’t keep a good band down. The result is Red Horse, a snorting, stomping, snarling beast of a recording that’s beyond a shadow of a doubt the San Franciscans’ most potent statement to date. The album isn’t out until October 30th, but Early Graves are already hitting the road hard, bringing their patented brand of pure Hell to the stage.

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