The unexpected loss of life is a tragedy not easily overcome. I found myself in this situation not too long ago and although I can say mourning and self-reflection will help, nothing heals the wound faster than getting back out into the world and living.
That sentiment is easier said than done but my longtime friend Roger Schultz simply wouldn’t take no for an answer. In town for his birthday, Roger spied a ‘special matinee’ show at Reggie’s (2105 S. State Street, Chicago) which featured the legendary punk band, Discharge and he used it to lure me back into the land of the living.
The metal gods were on our side as we made it downtown in time to catch the final two songs of a local act from Romeoville, IL called Nam Land. They are an old school punk/grind act in the vein of The Accused, Terrorizer or even early Napalm Death. Their dirty street style really set the stage for what was to come.
The next band up was Portland Oregon’s Toxic Holocaust. I must admit seeing this act on the bill sealed the deal for me. I love old school punk influenced speed metal and Toxic Holocaust is a group that embraces this vintage attack. It was an impressive display of velocity. I can’t wait for a follow up to 2014’s Chemistry of Consciousness.
Toxic Holocaust was followed by sludge metal legends Eyehategod. I’ve recently gotten into the doom/sludge scene after seeing Georgia’s Black Tusk perform their ‘swamp metal cuts’ with Holy Grail earlier this year. It didn’t take long for me to discover Eyehategod and their stifling Louisiana blues structures. I was a bit disappointed I didn’t get to see the material executed with longtime vocalist Mike Williams but it was a rare treat to see his slot replaced by Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe! Blythe’s wry comments and deranged stage antics had the crowd pumped up. Eyehategod finished their set and left us wanting more.
The final group of the evening was the famed British punk act Discharge. While today’s metal fan might consider the Discharge attack simplistic, their high speed tempos and brutal vocals paved the way for extreme music. They are uniformly respected by their peers which can be seen in the multitude of ‘cover songs’ offered as homage. I considered seeing this band, a requirement of my metal pedigree and I was not disappointed. Discharge held an unbridled energy seldom seen in today’s music and these guys have been at it since 1977!
As great as the show was I still wasn’t prepared to write about it. Here’s what changed my mind, the matinee show ended around nine and they basically kicked everybody out to set up for the next one. I spent some time milling around the outside of the venue, chatting with metal heads, enjoying the scene and unexpectedly ran into Gary Mader the bassist for Eyehategod. We ended up shooting the shit for a while. I asked him how the group hooked up with Randy Blythe of Lamb of God and he told me Randy was an old friend of the band from the Burn the Priest days and offered to fill in. He even told me Eyehategod was planning on taking a short hiatus but had some new material ready. Eventually, the conversation turned to myself. Gary asked what I was doing and I told him we were on our way home, the second show was sold out. Gary told me to wait a minute, he made his way back inside the venue and added me to the band’s guest list with a plus 1! Not only did I get to see these great bands play, I got to see them twice!
Needless to say this was a comeback I could not have imagined. It reminded me the door to ‘the scene’ is always open. The support structure of heavy metal offers more than music and I am proud to be a part of this family. \m/