Know Your Roots Part 5: The House That Pain Built

So as we start saying goodbye to a clusterfuck dumpster-fire of a year, I myself will personally say goodbye to this particular article series seeing how, much like time is a flat circle, I felt like I’ve told this story one too many times. It’s a daily reminder of how not to try to live my life again, or at least a good decade of it. Up until this particular point in my life, I thought I had bear witnessed to some pretty dark times.

WROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG.

The next particular 6 years would be me being a white-hot blade constantly being hammered at it on the forging iron itself. And not with ease or precision. But with a constant battering of deafening blows of life throwing obstacles and just about any and every excuse for me to damn-near send me to the psychiatric ward. And it did. Between 2003-2009 was a 6 year long maniac-depressive race for me to find myself. These particular ages of 21-26 were what I would call the absolute worst that I’ve experienced in terms of mental, physical, and emotional health. So let’s get onto the jamz that somehow managed to pull me thru and keep me on a somewhat sane level of reality but also had me questioning it at the same time.

One of the biggest things that was going on was the rise and popularity of Metalcore. That and in my particular area of Lakeland/Central Florida, Emo/Scene/Post-Hardcore, whatever you want to call that. I absolutely loathed this. I fucked hated every second of it with a passion. It still pissed me off quite a bit like with any underground maniac at the time. And with the country being ruled by a Republican government at the time, I in my warped little head of mine thought the best way to counter-act and react to all of this was to act like it was the fucking 80’s all-over again. And in some weird catch-22 situation, I learned MORE about the roots of extreme music. I started being retrogressive and listening to 80’s underground Thrash/Death/Black metal bands, particularly the bands from the tape-trading circuit. Master, Death Strike, Repulsion, Insanity(California), Pentagram(Chile), Slaughter (Chile), Massacre, early Death, early Sepultura, and even going further into Thrash Metal and discovering bands like Vio-lence, Dark Angel, Possessed, Razor, Protecter (Germany). I was pulling a Fenriz on everyone in late 2002, very beginning of 2003. And goddamn it was fucking exciting. It was the polar opposite of everything that was going on around me.

On top of this retro-active wave I was riding, I also was discovering more about the early UK Anarcho crust/Hardcore/Grindcore scene of the 80’s and the Swedish and Japanese scenes. Bands like Amebix, Gauze, G.I.S.M., Anti-Cimex, Doom(UK), Black Uniforms, Rudimentary Peni, Hellbastard, the list goes on and on. The internet was starting to come together and I started talking to more and more fellow maniacs that shared the same ideas and feelings as me. Again whatever was popular at the time, we went in the opposite fucking direction with middle fingers in the air. AOL and Yahoo Metal chat rooms were the place to be for this and even on the then Myspace message boards. Websites such as Anus.com (American Nihilistic Underground Scoiety) had such limited information about bands of extreme music and crappy fucking 30 second Real Player clips of Mayhem’s “Freezing Moon” or like a crappy 1 paragraph trying to describe Ildjarn, so when websites/online fanzines such as Voices From the Darkside and even Metalion of Norway’s infamous Slayer ‘zine started doing these retrospective articles and reviews of all the stuff from the 80’s it was brand-new to young testosterone-filled dudes like myself. It was a breath of fresh wind. Total an complete antithesis.

Sweden was a being a hot thing to rip-off to no end. With the wave of Metalcore and Hardcore bands basically doing their best to be the next American version of At The Gates or In Flames. It generally pissed me off because it seemed like no band, no matter what they did could not fucking get it right. For every 1 half-way decent song by some American band,there were a thousand fucking imitators. One of the best examples I would always use was The Crown‘s 5th and best fucking album, “Crowned In Terror” as an example to recommend to the falses and kids that went from Korn one year to Shadows Fall the next. I figured if they couldn’t handle something as well-produced but firmly rooted in Swedish Death Metal outside of the then popular-yet-overly ripped-off Gothernburg sound, then they didn’t have a hope in hell. For me it was again, in true metal head jargon, “No wimps. No false metal.”

Between me completely immersing myself in my studies at going to college, holding down shitty part-time jobs by working at gas stations and even the one summer I was a lifeguard, and me immersing myself in constantly discovering new music or music I have never heard or listened to before, what led me down the path to that depressive streak? What was going on that started this downward spiral for me? Well the culture that was happening was not a particular favorite one. It had started in the early 2000’s and continued into this softening of the human spirit, including mine. It also brought up the coming-of-age story that happens to a lot of young men where the country calls them for their volunteering to the call of duty. I answered it. I was 21 in 2004, still living with my parents in our really nice townhouse apartment. And into my 2nd year of going to junior college for journalism, the cracks in me were starting to show. The previous year I had found myself enjoying the fruits of my post-high school graduation which meant partying. Partying at my level meant a very unhelathy love of Jagermeister, painkillers/opiates(Hydrocodone, Vicodin, Percocet), muscle-relaxers(Soma), and benzodiazapems(Xanax, Valium). I wasn’t at full-blown addict stage, but I had partied enough to where my grades were being affected and so was my mood. I personally felt like I was stagnating. Constantly caught in a dismal depressing fuck muck that I could not get myself out of. So what did I do? I dropped out of college and enlisted in the US Army active-duty. Which was the the craziest fucking thing I did at the time. Call it a chance to prove myself to myself or sheer dumb bravery or whatever you want to it. But I had to do it. At that point, there was no other option for me. This option did not come without it’s consequences.

I was to be a then 97 Echo, or for those that don’t know, Military Intelligence Officer. I was going to go the safe route and get me a nice cushy desk job in the military instead of trying to be some dumb-ass tanker, but when I injured myself on my last week of boot camp, that completely broke me. I had never experienced defeat like that before. I basically was doing my final 15K mile ruck march up-hill. My Final Training Exercise, or as the Army called it, The Crucible. It was your final test you had to take in order to become a solider and receive your beret and privilege and fucking right to call yourself a soldier. I was carrying a 125 lbs of gear up-hill, overstepped my foot which marching, and tumbled/rolled backwards about a good 10 feet. Totally snapped all the ligaments in my right ankle and injured my back. Made it impossible to complete my crucible and final PT test. I could barely walk, let alone think of doing a 2.5 mile run. After the doctors looked at the mess I was, the suggested to my company’s XO that I immediately be sent back home, completely separated from my battle buddies that I had made friends with and bonded like brothers over the past 4 months. That truly broke my spirit. Adding insult to injury they gave me an ELS discharge which is short for Entry level Separation. it’s a special discharge that is neither honorable nor dishonorable, it basically says you couldn’t hack it in basic training making you look like a fucking quitter and leaving you in limbo as far as any sort of healthcare benefits granted by the VA hospital.

Upon coming back into the civilian world, I was completely and absolutely depressed. I had learned that while I was off playing the hero a good few hundred miles away in Frt. Benning Georgia, coming back home was the hardest. I had to then face my father who was a Marine Sniper in Vietnam and a CW2 Officer and my mother who was a Specialist in the Army as well. I had to face my father’s demons as they re-surfaced, and the news that not only my grandmother had cancer but my dog Sidney, who I had ever since the age of 9/10 years old, had passed away. I went into the Army where life seemed normal and I needed a change, and I came back into what felt like my own fucking war. And it stayed that way for the next handful of years.

At this particular point I was listening to a LOT of Skinny Puppy. Their music provided the only means of catharsis between the issues I was facing both mentally and physically and chemically. I was working a shitty warehouse job as a stocker/receiver for a furniture company that had no heat or A/C where all day for up to 12 hours I would throw my back out from stacking furniture on top of each other all day fucking long, go home, numb myself on a combo of whatever I could find as far as pharmaceuticals I could get a hold of, and then the next day sweat it all out of my system in the intense Florida heat and humidity. In one year after coming back from the army I went from being 6’1″ at a pretty bulky but fit 196 lbs down to a soaking wet 135 lbs. In constant pain. And the only thing I could do was self-medicate my pain and drown-out to the sounds of Skinny Puppy‘s essential 80’s material. The schizophrenic multilayered sounds of songs like “Worlock” defined my multi-layered issues and growing-out-of-proportions chemical dependency and mental issues. Perfectly matched the pace that I was going at life in this manic-depressive spreed and daze.

Another particular album that I felt very connected to was “The Black House” by the US black metal band Krieg fronted by Decibel magazine’s modern-day Bukowski, Neill Jameson. My daily mood swings and mounting stress from life in general all resulted to my experiencing a complete and total nervous breakdown. So much I had experienced up to this particular turning point, for the worst was yet to come, that even though I had no idea what Mr. Jameson was screaming as far as actual words go in the particular song “Ruin Under A Burning Sky” off said album, but that was me. In my soaking-wet drug-induced emaciated state where I resembled fucking Christian Bale off “The Machinist“, I then experienced the death of my father and my grandfather(mother’s father) within a year of each other. Life got even worst. And so did my daily physical pain levels, mental deterioration, violent mood swings, experience of auditory hallucinations and night terrors, family life, and addiction to opiates. Particularly at that point I was doing so much Soma and Hydocodone that it was scary. I’m talking slamming 10-12 Somas on 8 7.5 mg Hydocodones. And I don’t just say all of this for dick-measuring. This is the hell I experienced. It led me to completely snapping at a good friend and I ended up in jail overnight for the first time ever. I was trialed for assault and battery, but because of the situation the judge was REALLY fucking nice to drop it and tell me to stay out of trouble. No charges pressed. I didn’t care. I just wanted to constantly numb myself out and not feel the pain I was going through. And even then it got worst.

My Mother and I then decided to move away from Florida to be with family out in Louisiana, leaving my Grandmother(Father’s mother) behind. She was still going through chemotherapy. The last I saw her she was wearing a wig and crying that her family was leaving her. Even as I write this, it’s hard for me to talk about this. It was the hardest decision I had to make, but I couldn’t stay in Florida. I would have ended up either suicidal or in prison or sticking a needle in my arm for my daily fix. So we went to stay with family in our grieving and mentally unsound state. I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and given a heavy cocktail of psychiatric medication including Depakote, Seroquel XR, Cymbalta, and Kolonopin. My family out in Louisiana turned their backs on my mother and I and we were forced into the streets. Homeless for about a month but I was employed at the time so that granted my mother and I to nicely stay at this run-down motel for us to have a roof over our heads. I managed to work my ass-off while being so heavily medicated and save enough to get an apartment but it was Section 8 Housing in the ghetto section of Baton Rouge. Completely surrounded by addicts and drug-dealers. During what seemed like a break amidst all of this chaos that was my life my mother’s mother passed away and then my father’s grandmother passed away a mere two weeks after. That was it. I had had enough.

Despite all that was going on, I had my only source of outlet and place to go to seek refuge: CD Warehouse on College Drive near the LSU campus and the Books-A-Million that was right across the street. For years that was my place to go to escape and loose myself. Every chance I could get either before of after work and my days off from work living in Baton Rouge, I would go there to try and forget the daily shitty fucking wretchedness that my life has become. One album I was listening to a lot was Lurker Of Chalice‘s self-titled album. The nights I spent in pure anxiety I would isolate myself and constantly listen to it, reading whatever book I purchased to keep my mind off the fact that life felt like it was ending and I was only 25 years old. Jeff Whitehead’s music on that particular side-project put into words and sounds that I could never particularly articulate to my doctor. The depressing depths I was going through, the turmoil, stress, mental fragility, and the nights of waking-up in a cold sweats and panic attacks……if I had a soundtrack to perfectly describe that particular time, it would be that. As fucked-up as it sounds, I still listen to that album almost on a daily basis. It’s a personal reminder of what I went through

The turning point in all of this was the night that I had found out from my mother that my grandmother passed away. I broke inside to the point where I wanted it all to end. I had gotten a hold of Morphine Sulphate in the pill form and Oxycotin extended release pills. That night I decided to put myself in a deep sleep. It was the only time I decided to do as something as stupid as take all the psychiatric medication and then take 8 Morphine pills on top of 6 Oxycotins. Basically I had taken enough to kill a human being. But that was not to be my case. I gobbled down a handful of pills and went to bed. I don’t remember exactly what time it was, but it was early in the morning where I woke from a night-terror in a completely soaked state, bed was wet, and had a full blown panic attack. On top I was hearing voices, and frantically running trough the apartment locking the doors, and hearing people pounding on the walls. I had lost it officially. I then went into the bathroom, stripped down, turned on the shower and stood there shaking/trembling probably from some sort of delirium tremors or god knows what else. But I then realized whatever I did, I would not rid myself of my problems no matter how much or what I took. I couldn’t even properly make it look like I committed suicide. I don’t know why I am even still alive after that particular night. Do I believe in a higher power? The jury is out on that one considering what I’ve been through. I’ve been lucky and fortunate to make it this far in life. I moved back to Florida shortly afterwards and moved in to my grandmother’s house I had inherited(where I still live) and lived with my high school sweetheart who helped me get off so much. I give her a lot of credit for putting up with my ass in the years she was with me helping me motivate myself to get better. It wasn’t easy. It hasn’t been easy. Even as I write this I still go through the daily battle of whatever life throws at me. Is there a happy ending to this series of articles? Yes and no. The worst happened but like any person dealing with mental issues or addictions, I still seek help and within the last 3 years I actually got my VA healthcare so I have access to professional therapists. My mother re-married and both her and I were adopted into a family that has shown us more love and comfort than our biological family showed us in our darkest hour. My friends and family have understood my battle and personal war that I’ve gone through and have encouraged me to keep going at this thing and dream that I started back in college. which, as innocent and silly as this sounds, was to be a music writer and basically talk about music and be involved with the music sub-culture even after working for Full Moon productions as a teen and the short time that I wrote for Cvltnation.com when they first started on the internet before they got huge when I got an e-mail and a few other sites that did the same but that’s a completely different story. My writing. It’s the one thing outside of music that keeps me together. As corny as this might seem and sound, Michael Stripe of R.E.M. summed everything I’ve talked about in the song “Everybody Hurts.” The lyrics are true…don’t let yourself go.

Why did I name this series of articles Know Your Roots? Simply meaning, never forget where you came from, where you’ve been, where you’ve gone, and where you’re currently going. There’s no particular song I can sum all of this I have written and told you, I think it’s a rather impossible feat even for me as much as I do outside of my blog on FB and social media. All I know that if there is anyone out there that is currently going through the same situations that I have in the past or if you have a friend or family member or loved one that is battling these same issues, please by all means be there for them and help them be their guiding light in the storm that they are going through. Even if you just have to listen to them talk, it makes all the difference in the world. Don’t be afraid to help and don’t be afraid to ask for help. As Henry Rollins said in the book “Get In the Van“….”I am average intelligence. There is nothing special about me. If I can get this far, I wouldn’t be surprised if you couldn’t get twice as far.

You know what, fuck it. Keep jamming on.

Know Your Roots Part 4: Strange Days

In my last part of the KYR series I touched base on what I still consider one of the more important part of my musical up-bringing. And looking back at the time I thought it was a pretty killer peak but little did I know to my young and still-growing mind, it was just another cliff note. Because after that particular period…..it got weird. Just flat-out strange. And a lot of it had to deal with the particular time period it took place in. So let’s address the elephant in the room;

Nu-Metal

THE dirty word for anyone, even to this day, that claims this or that. Before I get anywhere near that topic, lemme start out by painting a picture of who I was from 1998-2002. It’s not a particular time frame I look back on with fond memories. The only memories I do have was that this particular period I started to come a bit out of my shell and start making friends in high school. Some of which I’m still in touch with and chat it up with on social media and try to make time to hang-out and bullshit. The problem at the time of first meeting them in high school was that at the end of the day was that I was that edgy-as-shit teen with obvious incorrect wiring.  There was that one time where it got bad and I ended up seeing the first of many psychiatrists which was the start of another path for me. But even that didn’t particularly phase me in the least fucking bit. Not at ages 17-19. I was that extremely naive and stubborn and generally uneducated enough to think there was absolutely nothing wrong with me  but all the signs were there: the occasional outburst, the brooding, the experimenting and numbing haze with Soma and Hydrocodone and Percocet……it would ultimately set up the pace for my life for the next 10 years. But enough of that part of those strange days, let’s go to straight to those jamz.

One of the top albums I religiously listened to was none other than “November Coming Fire” by Samhain. As if I was not already a fan of The Misfits and Danzig, Samhain was that perfect drum beat. The first place I had ever heard of the name was, of course, Metal Maniacs. They did a retrospective article on the short-lived side-project by Glenn Danzig and for whatever reason, I sought out this fabled boxset. It actually took 2-3 years for it to come out but when it did, it was Christmas. I don’t know what it was particularly about that album, but something about those post-punk beats, the Death Rock guitar riffs, the weird juxtaposition of the Metal and Hardcore crossover sounds and the gothic atmosphere….it didn’t sound like an album I would or could impress anyone with. And I loved it for that. Mind you I was just starting to discover and go further into Punk and Hardcore music. Bands like The Damned, Discharge, Black Flag, were starting to find places in my massive music collection and on top of that I was discovering and first seeing music videos on VH1 by Public Image Limited, The Sisters Of Mercy, and Lords of The New Church. So really I discovered Samhain‘s 3rd album at the right time. Also I was on a massive Napalm Death kick and reading their interviews I would discover bands like Cocteau Twins, Killing Joke, Dead Can Dance, Swans, and even re-visit bands such as Skinny Puppy and Ministry and just basically re-affirm something I had known for the longest time which was that I seriously was a fan of Goth/Post-Punk/whatever you want to call it.

Another massive and mighty album that popped-up on my radar was “In The Eyes Of God” by Nashville Tennessee’s noise/experimental metal band Today is The Day. Still to this day one of the scariest fucking bands. Even with “The Temple of The Morning Star, ” the music is simply claustrophobic. And there is reason of a band that I’m seriously a fan of that I don’t overly jam out to as much for a few reasons. One of them is that they make the most cult or truest of extreme acts sound like fucking wimps. The compositions of their music is enough to give a progressive nerd a wet dream but also cause night-terrors just by Steve Austin’s terrifying howls of torture. Complete with the disturbing artwork, and very lyrically nerve-wrecking, if I were to listen to TITD on a regular basis, I would probably end up throwing away about 95% of my music collection, save for a few bands, because nothing comes close to the darkness that band creates. Either that or take another trip to the psych ward at the V.A. hospital. And lyrically…..well, have a looksie for yourself:

There is no end As fas as I can see
Here is my heart
Love is impossible
I’ll give my life to have you here with
me I’m not your God He is an animal
What is your name Who do you wanna
be Life is hard pain
This is reality
Niggers Jews Faggots Whores
FBI IRA SLA ATF
Murder Mama Hate” – “There Is No End” taken from “In the Eyes of God

Still to this day nothing send shivers up my spine as the Waylon Jennings intro sample to the song “The Man Who Loves To hurt Himself

Now that we got all of the weird stuff out of the way, let’s get into that dreaded and dark part of the late 90’s and early 00’s; Nu-Metal. I wasn’t a major fan of it. Considering my musical knowledge up until that point, it was flat. It was weak. It came off as an extremely boring episode of “7th Heaven” and basically it was a genre of music for pretty white suburban kids with first world problems. The image and mall culture aesthetic to me seem rather pre-school. And it made it extremely difficult to be social with my fellow classmates. I did mange to somehow make friends (don’t ask me fucking how, I still have zero clue), and in trying to understand THEIR love of Nu-metal music, I told myself I was going to drop the pretentiousness of my edginess just to allow myself to be for once open-minded and try to see it from their side. Now one of the first bands that really stuck out was none-other than the Deftones. To me at that time, Deftones were on their own level and wavelength. They didn’t come across as a band who’s only objection were to be walking billboards for spots clothing, hip-hop clothing, facial piercings from Claire’s, and just down-right edgy shock tactics. Deftones came across as the kind of dudes that just didn’t fit in anywhere even though I noticed that plenty of Metal fans secretly adopted them into their circle of hails. At least the ones who were either open-minded or were lenient enough to allow themselves to listen to other bands that didn’t have the annoying wigger-ish hand gestures that was a dominating factor in Nu-metal at the time. Plus Deftones came from the school of riffs such as Helmet, Therapy?, Quicksand, and they also got kudos from bands such as Strife and The Unsane, so that right there made me perk my ears up. “White Pony” is still the one Nu-Metal album I will always defend to this day and one of the extremely limited few Nu-Metal bands that I will always defend.

Last but not least, the one album that not only made a huge musical dent but an EMOTIONAL dent in those weird years was Fear Factory’s 1995’s “Demanufacture.” I was a bit late to this one. It was one band that thru the mid-90’s I had associated with monotonous groove metal such as Biohazard, Machine Head and (yuck!) Skinlab. Yeah I was an idiot for overlooking it and not paying attention to it. But when I finally listened to it was actually the first album that made extreme drumming more sense by the triggering of the syncopated drums. Not that I didn’t get what a blast-beat was before, but the double-bass part I always had trouble understanding of how that was done and when I heard “Demanufacture“, it made sense. Kinda like how an aspiring rock drummer who wants to learn how to play Neil Peart of Rush or Stewart Copeland of The Police but doesn’t get it until he hears Ginger Baker of Cream. Not only did it break down the extremeness that I could see how it all came together, but lyrically it left an emotional dent on me particularly the songs “Zero Signal” and “Pisschrist.” As cheesy/corny as it sounds, I distinctly remember one day I was alone in my parents house listening to “Demanufacture” and the song “Zero Signal” was playing. I don’t know what it was about that song, but all of a sudden I felt my throat get choked up and my eyes water. I felt the tears roll down my face. I was practically scared because up until that point I don’t think I have ever had a piece of music made me feel like that. I read the lyrics. It didn’t make sense. I continued listening to the album and the song “Pisschrist” blasted thru my speakers. Something was going on in me and I had no idea what was happening. No clue. And it wasn’t until vocalist Burton C. Bell sang melodically “Where is your savior now?” that I could feel this emotion that I couldn’t contain finally being freed. I didn’t know where it had come from, why I had done this. I was a bit shook-up about it.  Considering at the time I was just graduating high school and finally past having to deal with the day-in-day-out traumas of being brought up and raised in the Polk County School system, may be it was tears of joy that I survived it without committing suicide or shooting up my school. I didn’t become another statistic. But now I had to look forward to was community college and starting my young adult years. And in that moment I realized….all this time, I was afraid. I was afraid, but something was wrong with me to the point where I couldn’t explain why. And I didn’t know WHY I was afraid. Which was by far the scariest part.

Check back next month where I go forward and really start experiencing the darkness that was my 20’s. It’s about to get extremely depressing.

Portland Oregon’s sons of northwestern darkness: Hands Of Thieves.

handsofthieves

I don’t get paid to do this (will still gladly accept donations and contributions btw). This thing that I do is what you would call something of a hobby/lifestyle at this point. It’s a constant reminder of why I even remotely got into not just metal/heavy/dark music, but why I’ve supported and will continue to support the underground: to basically sit around and wait for the mailman to come and deliver me an LP/CD/demo of a band that I may have heard 1 or 2 songs by but more interested in tearing that package off and playing the physical copy. Well this past Monday, I received a cassette demo tape from Oakland, California-based cassette tape record label Transylvanian Tapes in the form of a demo from Portland, Oregon called “Feasting On Dark Intentions” by Hands Of Thieves.

I’ll just go ahead and say this; this is already within my top demos of 2016 next to VRTRA’s “My Bones Hold A Stillness. And much like VRTRA, Hands of Thieves brings a well-balanced sound of black/death/doom/grindcore and how one sound morphs into another, well, the flow is rather well-handled and very well-produced. Another great thing is that at times and it being a thing that gets brownie points in my book is that a band like Hands Of Thieves, when they craft songs of suffering and absolute misery….I can’t hear specific influences. Which is great because it comes off as fresh, new, modern, etc. Terms that most bands would be ashamed of being stuck with, but in the long-run is more beneficial than hindering. I mean, at the end of the day, I honestly rather listen to something I have a hard time putting my finger on rather than hear the same  ol’ 90’s Nordic metal-sounding stuff that I have heard way too much in the past 19 years.

And I hate to pick a favorite from just 4 songs really. Honestly the whole thing from side A to side B is just fucking worth it. But I will say that if the first track “Wrath Weaver” doesn’t grab your attention, then, I guess you could always go listen to something else. Hands of Thieves is something else to behold and is a worthy addition to any underground extreme music fan’s ever-extending music collection.

Feasting On Dark Intentions” by Hands of Thieves is still available on cassette thru Transylvanian Tapes via Bandcamp. You can also follow HoT via their official Facebook page as well.

Know Your Roots Part 3: The northern skies are set ablaze

Continuing the KYR series, now we come to one of the more/most important periods of my musical evolution/progress….

I was 14/15 when what I felt what I was hungering and craving for in terms of music finally came into my grasp. I had just discovered and already religiously reading the now defunct wide-spread Metal Maniacs magazine publication. It seemed like it was meant to be considering where I lived in my humble and quiet surroundings of Bartow, Fl. At every Circle K gas station, even the Publix, Winn-Dixie and Food Lion grocery stores, it was there. Outside of my home town, it was harder to find ironically even if I was else be it in the central Florida and southern Louisiana locations. But every month from when I first started reading it, the new issues were there providing me with VIP access to the underground. Articles, album reviews, and names flooded me at a pace where I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep-up but somehow I managed to not only go back and discover classic albums by the likes of Celtic Frost, King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Venom and Sodom, but I also found ways of obtaining albums by the likes of Mayhem, Emperor, Darkthrone, Dimmu Borgir, Immortal, Gorgoroth, Satyricon, Mortiis, etc. Mind you this was around 96-97 so I basically jotted down and searched out whatever I could in those truly dark days of the metal underground. And that right there really depends on your perspective if you were around in that particular time period. One of the albums that warped my little developing brain was the classic 1985 album “To Mega Therion” by Celtic Frost. Still to this day nothing compares to it.

Death Metal was dead, or so they said. But when Tampa is literally in your backyard, the party from 1993 was still happening for those of us who were a generation younger. We still sought out the OOP classic albums all while Black Metal was just basically starting to make it’s way over to the States. It took a while for kids like me to pick up on it but when I did, there was truly and absolutely NOTHING like it. Everything that had come before was really a pale-comparison. Reading the interviews and looking at certain album titles already let me know what the fuck was up. And to make matters worse, I was really the only teen in my neck of the woods that was remotely interested in this new found genre of music. And I loved it that way.

It took every taboo. Every bit of shock. Every single ounce of negativity and multiplied it by a thousand. And the ass-kicker was that these Nordic gentleman were doing these actual real-life crimes against everything that went against normal society’s boundaries. They took all the repressed fantasies and comic book imagery and made it real. The fact that they were doing what they were doing and basically putting their words into action caught my attention quickly. And their ultra-serious sense of dedication made it seem more dangerous to even think about simply by the act of knowing about it. And all of this was solidified that I knew I was onto something so extreme just by the way how my classmates listened to metal one year and the next start listening to Master P(I’m really showing my fucking age here). To put it in perspective, 90’s teens were thinking they were satanic for listening to Marilyn Manson by dressing up. Me? I was listening to musicians who actually stabbed their bandmates, committed suicide, burned down churches, stabbed homosexuals, and did other insane acts. So in this crazy immature way, it was a bit like competitive one-uppance. And any time I would try to discuss Black Metal with them, they simply backed off or felt like it was too much. My decision to not only support but immerse myself in this genre of music was made right then and there

I also listened to what was big at the time for metal-obsessed teens such as myself; “The Great Southern Trendkill” by Pantera, “Antichrist Superstar” by Marilyn Manson, “October Rust” by Type O Negative, “Aenima” by Tool, and the post-apocalyptic “Through Silver And Blood” by Neurosis. Next to Celtic Frost, Darkthrone, and Mayhem, Neurosis was another one of those albums that fucking hit me hard. My theory to why it did was because of the physical changes my body was going thru puberty. Combined with the awkwardness of being a teenager, the isolation of where I lived and the troubles at both home and school, for a good 3-4 year period for me it was the first time I ever felt what it was like to experience depression combined with a healthy dosage of teen angst. Not to mention I started to dress more extreme; cut-off baggy camo shorts, wallet-chains, that one year I completely shaved my head and rid myself of the traditional crew cut I was kinda forced to wear by my father, band shirts with satanic symbols, spiked wristbands, etc. Hell there was that one time I even found a mini spiked gauntlet I found at a local flea-market which I wore with pride. I even went as far as carving an inverted cross into my upper bicep(It was the 90’s, we did stupid shit like that as kids Ok?!) I not experienced the darkness, I reached out and WANTED to further explore it.  And the music I listened to perfectly reflected that darkness. For me, it was the ultimate form of catharsis I could find at the time. For all the age-old edgy and shocking shit that I did as a kid as far as acting-out, my parents were actually quite fucking liberal and lenient with all of this. I figured if I wasn’t doing drugs or getting into trouble, I could schlock it up as much as I wanted.

About this time, all while the floodgates of the underground opened and the search and hunt for more music, I came across a full-page advertisement for a mail-in catalog called Full Moon Productions. This was in 1997 whenever my parents and I moved to Lakeland, Florida which is really about 20-25 minutes north of Bartow. Lakeland is also the biggest city in Polk County. Upon looking thru the albums they had I found a couple that I had been searching for particulary. One of them was “Crypt Of The Wizard” by Mortiis. The other was “Under The Sign of Hell” by Gorogorth. I also noticed that FMP was literally located about 5-10 minutes away from where I lived at the time on Combee Road and FMP headquarters was located right off Edgewood Road. So I called up the number and asked if I could stop by and pick-up the albums and hand whomever ran the label the cash in hand just because I was one of those hyperactive kids that wasn’t patient enough to put up with the shitty postal system. The day I actually met FMP owner Jon “Thorns” Jamshid was another one of those life-changing moments. At the time I didn’t know how to properly act or anything of the sort but it wasn’t until later on that he told me that he was really impressed just due to my age and he never thought a kid like me would be into the underground extreme music scene. But for the next 10 years the gentleman basically became one of my good and closest friends and a mentor of sorts. He not only went on to let me help him in the FMP office by filling mail orders on certain days after school, but this dude had me at the forefront of the scene from roughly 1998-2006. If it really wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t know about the likes of Sarcofago, Black Witchery, Inquisition, Judas Iscariot, Strid, Ildjarn, Velvet Cacoon, Graveland, Nargaroth, Absu, Krieg, Leviathan, or even the more obscure 80’s stuff that wasn’t particular popular at the time such as Flames Of Hell, Incubus(Fl), Vulcano, Protector(Germany), Poison(Germany), Hobbs Angel of DeathPiledriver or Excorist. The list of bands he turned me onto goes on and on. On top of making weekly trips to FMP and coming out with a stack of like 10 CDs complete with shirts and fanzines, it was a fucking addiction. Not one of the worst addictions, but an addiction none the less. So in reality I am really forever in debt to him. I haven’t talked to him much ever since he moved his label from Lakeland to Colorado in 2007/2008-ish. I still see the occasional Official Facebook FMP page post that pops up every once in a while and comment on that. May be some things from the past are best left in the past to be preserved for what they were.

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To be continued in the next installment of the Know Your Roots series. Things are about to get fucking weird(er)…

Know Your Roots prt 2: Into The Void…

Last KYR article I did was discuss the start of my personal journey down the left hand path of music. This one goes further into where my tastes started growing more and more extreme by the minute and the discovery of said extremes that would eventually make me be the introverted ADHD adult that I am today. So lemme grab a cup of coffee, a pack of smokes, ease back into my Lazy Boy recliner and take that familiar trip back down memory lane to a time where the world was still wide and undiscovered in knowledge and my young perspective….

Up til this point I had heard bands like Ministry, White Zombie, Type O Negative, Pantera, etc. I for whatever reason had NOT ventured anywhere near Thrash Metal because that wasn’t as huge with my age group at the time and was spoken in terms of a thing that happened before our discovery. But with that said I started noticing my appetite for music heavier, louder, faster and overall more over-the-top started to make me grow restless. There was one particular moment where I had my first taste of anything even remotely related to extreme music and it was on one Saturday afternoon. My Mom and I had gone to Spec’s Music (A chain record store here in Florida. Fuckers were everywhere.) And I’m in total aimless arrow mode. The second I step through the door (and I’m still like this today for whatever reason I have no clue why), it’s like someone pulled the string back on a bow, shoots the arrow but there is no target. Just me flying and wherever I land, I stick there. This particular time I landed in the posters section near the VHS/Laserdisc section of the record store. I’m flipping through the posters and I come across a huge poster of “Butchered At Birth” by Cannibal Corpse. BOOM! Right then and there I was probably 11 years old. My first real shocking experience with dealing with anything related to metal. Up until that point I thought I had seen everything. Nope. It was where my brain went somewhere between digust, shock and in total immature fashion saying “Fucking sweet bro!” Shortly after I, and like many people my age, got to see CC play in the Jim Carrey film “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.” Which was the first visual and SOUND of the extreme sounds of the early-to-mid 90’s. The intense moshing, stage-divers, that one killer skinhead punching the floor around Chris Barnes. This was something that my brain latched onto and said “I need that in my life.” Whatever it was, it was the polar opposite of the lack of stimulation of what life was for me as a kid then. As whiny as that sounds, it’s true. I was a very active kid (I did boxing, football, swimming btw) and I searched out adventure like most kids with that sense of freedom that is now a thing of the past due to modern-day adults robbing them of said freedoms and ability to have a natural sense of curiosity. Still to this day, I’m very impulsive in seeking out stimulation beyond my natural suburban surroundings. Not in the form of street drugs or seedy vices, but you get the jest. #firstworldADHDproblems

This may sound cliche as fuck, but that was a huge thing to kids in the 90’s or anyone who didn’t know there existed something past Metallica and Nirvana. Shortly after that I started noticing and watching music videos on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball by Morbid Angel, Obituary and Napalm Death. The Brummies themselves were the ones that  struck a chord with me the most at that time due to their music video “Plague Rages.


Fear, Emptiness, Despair” was literally the first extreme album I owned. It was far more fucking demented than any of the death metal coming out of my backyard in central Florida. Plus I could get away with owning it because it didn’t have the over-the-top gore shriek shows of the likes of Cannibal Corpse or the overly Sumerian-themed odes to Old Ones by Morbid Angel. Not only did it have the groove sensibilities of the then burgeoning Alternative Metal/Grunge scenes, but it also had all the aspects of extreme music: blastbeats, guttural vocals, shrieks, cryptic lyrics, etc. It was one of the better gateway bands for me personally and still to this day they remain within my top 5 favorite bands of all time right up there next to Alice In Chains, Black Sabbath, and a couple others (more discussion of those other two in up-coming KYR entries) Soon after I got my first taste of the blastbeat and more faster tempos I  discovered and picked up on the likes of “Reign In Blood” by Slayer, “Chaos A.D.” and “Beneath the Remains” by Sepultura, as well as “World Demise” by Obituary, “Tomb Of The Mutilated” by Cannibal Corpse, “Domination” by Morbid Angel….the basic starter pack for a kid/young teen that just getting into extreme music during that time period from 1993-1995.

And that’s just one side of the coin.

Not only getting my mind massacred by those bands in the halcyon of the the early-mid 90’s, it seemed like all of a sudden, my young ADHD mind just started soaking up anything and fucking everything I could find. I didn’t care if it was the Hardcore Punk of Misfits and Black Flag or the old-school first-pumping Heavy Metal of the 80’s in the vein of W.A.S.P., Maiden, Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, etc. I didn’t give a fuck what it was….if it had anything to deal with some sort of corny-as-fuck demonic imagery or cryptic song titles or whatever I zoned in on that whatever it may be. This right here helped me at a young age appreciate the days of yore with the current present and understood the concept of different genres within the Metal underground. Plus with my serious lack of social circles, that’s all I had fucking time for. In the early-to-mid 90’s, to say you were a Metal fan was an automatic death sentence among your classroom peers. You instantly became a social pariah. Blacklisted from certain school cafeteria tables. And I couldn’t have given a fuck less truth be told. There was something exciting about sitting in my bedroom learning things that most other kids couldn’t understand or reading certain lyrics and expanding my vocabulary. Or reading certain lyrical themes that made me go to the local public library to find more about whatever subject some dude was yelling about. I was getting an education outside of the public school system in Florida which even then said Florida school system was fucking obsolete and out-dated. And my teachers wonder WHY I had piss-poor grades. I did have one best friend whom I still remain best friends to this day and will be there for him whenever he needs me(completely off topic), but he was the only other kid in Bartow, Fl that had a sense of adventure. That and he would sneak vinyl LPs from his older sister’s record collection: Dio-era Black Sabbath, Witchfinder General, Black Coven, GG Allin, Joy Division, etc. That was something also that gave me a different avenue of music to discover. Hell she even had that one kick-ass famous Black Mass LP that Anton LaVey did back in the 70’s. At this point I was straight-up addicted at the age of 13-15. But the one MAJOR thing that helped this growing addiction was Metal Maniacs Magazine (Forever Hails and RIP).

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For the next 15 or so years of my life Metal Maniacs became one of my 2 mentors and my personal bible and anything that it gave praise and hails to, I automatically went out and searched for it. It didn’t matter if it was the shittiest demo with the absolutely worst recording, all that mattered was me finding that next band or artists that would generate a massive rush of euphoric dopamine to my mind. It guided me further down into the abyss. The pen pal section in the back of the monthly magazine got me in contact with fellow diehards and the articles introduced to something that would be the defining moment of my teenager years. Something that would make me want to reach out, take that leap of faith, plunge head first into that chasm and finally touch the darkness that still unfortunately would follow me to this very day

But that’s another article yet to be written. To be continued…