overground scene

An auto-biography of gig attendance #3: The Haunted and Acid Death 1999

The gig by The Haunted and Acid Death in Peristeri, Greece, back in September 1999 is one of the most memorable gigs I’ve ever been. The reason is not because the bands in question were among my favourite bands (they were not), or because the gig itself was particularly amazing (it was good); instead, what makes this gig particularly significant is the circumstances within which it took place.

In September 1999, one of my best friends migrated to Italy to study economics. He also happened to be the only friend who would have joined me to this gig if he hadn’t left – none of my other friends liked The Haunted. I guess the sadness of his departure, combined with being at the concert on my own, marred the occasion. This is not, however, the only reason this gig has stayed with me. On September 7, 1999, a huge earthquake shook Athens. Many people died as the result of collapsed buildings, and for days people were afraid of staying in their homes. Many would camp out in public squares. My family spent several nights at my grandparents’ house, because our flat suffered damages and did not feel safe to be in as aftershocks continued for days. Being at the gig just a few days later (September 18), I was constantly worried that an aftershock might cause the audience to panic, or some lighting rig to unhook and fall on my head. The club (Woodstock, in Peristeri) was not in great shape, and that added to the stress.

Acid Death circa 2000 (source: encomium zine)

Anyway, neither of those things happened, and the vibrations caused by the sound combined with thrashing around would have probably concealed any minor aftershock. The gig was actually great. Sadly, I do not remember the opening band, Deadlights, performing. The main supporting band, Acid Death, was from Athens and played prog-death. By then they had a couple of great releases (an album and an E.P), and they were incredible live. On that night, they played a few songs from their debut album, which I loved back then, and, if I remember correctly, they may have also played “Apathy murders hope”, a little gem from the homonymous 1993 single (later on also appearing on the split E.P. with Avulsed).

By that point The Haunted had only released their debut, which I loved. Marco Aro had already taken the place of Dolving, and during the show they played a new song off their yet unreleased sophomore album. That song was “Leech”, which I thought sounded awful at the time. Two of the highlights were that they covered “Blinded by fear” by At The Gates, and “Raining blood” by Slayer. The tremolo-picked note after the final lyrics of “Raining blood” surreptitiously bled into the beginning of “Shattered“, and that was an awesome moment! According to the notes on the back of my ticket stub (see below), the band also played “World of lies” by At The Gates, which I faintly remember, and Judas Priest‘s “The ripper”, of which I have no recollection. Of course, the highlight of this gig was seeing two of my music heroes, namely the Björler brothers, whose music introduced me to death metal a few years before that gig. 

A night to dismember

The second time I saw Dismember live was in 2007 when they played the Mylos-Xylourgeio club in Thessaloniki. It was a great night which I remember every time I listen to Dismember’s Where ironcrosses grow (2004). Just like so many things, this album has come to mean so much more than what it was intended by the band when it was released. It is the album that marked the short-lived return of Cabeza, and that was awesome for a fan like myself who loved Richard’s contributions in the past. It also marked the return of Dan Seagrave’s art on a Dismember album after 13 years. It is also a piece of memorabilia, invested with the memory of the Dismember gig and the whole experience surrounding it.

I used to live in Piraeus, and Dismember were scheduled to play almost 500 kilometers away, in Thessaloniki. A friend and I decided to do the 6-hour trip by train to the gig. Whilst waiting at the train platform my friend rang me up to say that he could not make it because there was a chance for him to get laid… After bollocking him thoroughly and briefly considering canceling the trip, I decided to go by myself. Among the stuff I listened to during the trip was Dismember’s Indecent and Obscene (1993) and Entombed’s Clandestine (1991), which I had recorded in the same cassette-tape.

Upon arriving, I did what I always used to do in Thessaloniki, that is, visiting all record stores in the vicinity. Alone, a local record store dedicated to metal, was one of my stations on that day, and I ended up buying Where ironcrosses grow on vinyl. I also had it on CD at that point, but the vinyl version looked so beautiful, plus I thought I might be able to get the band to sign it at the gig. David Blomqvist, Dismember’s guitarist, ended up signing both the record and the cassette-tape!

Delicious cassette-tape with Blomqvist’s autograph

The gig took place in front of a small crowd of no more than a hundred people I would say. The band played a set representative of its entire career – with the exception of Hate campaign (1999) – focusing mostly on its formative years, with songs like “Deathevocation”, “Override the overture”, “Soon to be dead”, “Skin her alive”, “Pieces”, “Fleshless”, “Skinfather”, “Dreaming in red”, “On frozen fields”, “Casket garden”, “Of fire”, “Let the napalm rain”, “Tragedy of the faithful”, and only “Autopsy” off the latest album, which at the time was The god that never was (2006). Fred had just quit the band, so Thomas was the drummer. That put a dampener on the experience for me, to some degree. Anyway, after the gig was over the organisers took the band to a local club which, as far as I can remember (I was drunk by that point), did not play metal music, and some of us tagged along. There, it was both awesome, ‘cos I got to talk to David, Tobias and Martin, and a bit uncomfortable at the same time, as I felt extremely self-conscious; these people were my music heroes, and I didn’t know how to behave. I remember asking David who came up with the main riff of “Case # Obscene“, and he told me it was Fred. I don’t remember much more apart from leaving a while after David had left (maybe 15-20 minutes). As I was walking along Tsimiski road I saw David walking the opposite direction towards me and I waved at him. It turned out he got lost looking for his hotel and he didn’t want to take a cab for fear of being ripped-off. I pointed him to the right direction (I hope I did) and thanked him for the awesome gig and he thanked me back for the support. That night I slept at the entrance of a building ‘cos I had spent all my money on drinks and records, and I couldn’t afford to rent a room. 

Listening to Dismember whilst writing this post

An auto-biography of gig attendance #2: Cannibal Corpse, 1998

Each time someone poses the question “which one is your all time favourite gig?” my response is usually, “Cannibal Corpse”. I saw Cannibal Corpse in Woodstock Club, Peristeri (Greece) on the 25th of October 1998. The venue was small and claustrophobic, and would serve as the site for many other awesome gigs in the years to come. I was with two of my best friends (and one not that close friend), all of us big Cannibal Corpse fans. Cannibal Corpse shared the bill with Dark Funeral and Infernal Majesty. Although Gallery of suicide had just been released, we had already learned most of the lyrics by heart. My friends also liked Dark Funeral (one of them was obsessed with Vobiscum Satanas) but I didn’t. Infernal Majesty had just released Unholier than thou, a great album, and even though I wasn’t a big fan (I hadn’t even listened to None shall defy) I was somewhat excited to see them.

We arrived at the venue all pumped-up and with our tickets carefully bent near the bottom so that they could be smoothly ripped at the door, rather than being totally destroyed. It turned out that the people at the door did not tear up the tickets, hence the white line on the ticket on top of the date (see ticket above). I have absolutely no recollection of Dark Funeral playing. I remember seeing Masse Broberg in full leather and spikes, towering over me on his way to the stage. I also remember Chris Bailey, Infernal Majesty’s singer, in the crowd before they played, and I approached him, welcomed him and asked whether they would play “Roman song” off their latest album. I cannot remember his reply but I think they did play it after all. Again, although I remember enjoying Infernal Majesty, I don’t have any recollections as I was burning with anticipation for the headliner.

The year 1998 was a time when exposure to death metal videos in Greece was rare, so, speaking for myself, I didn’t know what to expect from a Cannibal Corpse gig. When the band started playing I could not believe my eyes. I was at the front of the stage, at arm’s length from Jack Owen, and I saw all the mind-blowing fret-work in all its splendour. I had never seen something similar in my life, and, suffice it to say, it changed my appreciation of death metal in terms of musicianship. Webster’s face was hidden behind his hair during the entire gig, and his stage presence was imposing. The band visited all the stops in its, already by that point, long and impressive career. At least one song was played by each one of their six albums. The awesome set-list included (not in order played): Skull full of maggots, Covered with sores, Meathook sodomy, I cum blood, Hammer smashed face, Starring through the eyes of the dead, Fucked with a knife, Striped, raped and strangled, Devoured by vermin, Perverse suffering, Puncture wound massacre, I will kill you, Disposal of the body, Gallery of suicide, Dismembered and molested, Headless (and I’m pretty sure they also played “Sentenced to burn”, although I haven’t written on the back of my ticket). The sound was perfect and the performance was immaculate. Every single moment was an amazing experience.

After the end of the concert we went outside to get some fresh air and catch our breaths. Soon after Corpsegrinder came out, and my friends and I surrounded him. He was in a good mood, and really nice to us. I mentioned his pierced tongue – which I had noticed during his performance – and he did some grimaces for us exhibiting his piercing. He signed our tickets. We then asked one of our friends who had a disposable camera to take a group picture of us with Corpsegrinder. We struck a pose and when he tried to take the picture he realised that he had used up all the film during the concert. So, we started swearing at him in Greek, and, of course, Corpsegrinder picked up the word “malaka” (wanker), and started repeating it in his funny, distinctive voice – a performance which brought about laughter from everyone in the vicinity. Owen also came out of the venue but he was quite withdrawn and walked around on his own. We approached him and asked for an autograph, which he gave, but he seemed almost sad. He quietly signed our tickets and walked away humming some kind of bluesy tune. After a while we got into a taxi-cab and headed home. The taxi-driver asked us if we were in a rock concert, and we said that we were. He was a middle-aged man, and had a macho-attitude typical for Greek taxi-drivers. After a brief period of silence, he addressed all of us with the question, “So…do you guys fuck a lot?”. We instantly burst out laughing, but I have no recollection of how we addressed his question. He then went off on a tangent telling us about his various “hot, young” girlfriends. He dropped us off, and we ended the night making fun of him in raspy voices, the result of our tormented vocal cords.

An auto-biography of gig attendance #1: Rock Of Gods, 1996

Some of my ticket-stubs.

Many years ago I wrote a post about how music gigs are the best form of entertainment. Having reconsidered, I decided that music gigs used to be an amazing form of entertainment when I was young, when I hadn’t seen many bands live, and when I had like-minded friends to go to gigs with. Attending concerts has lost its appeal for me in more recent years. A few weeks ago my mother sent me some old ticket-stubs and rekindled all those memories of gig attendance of my youth. A few days later I learned that Immolation are coming to Brighton, UK, as part of Mammothfest. Immolation is one of my all-time favourite death metal bands, and in terms of consistency, endurance, and creativity, the best death metal band of all times, in my opinion. In anticipation of this gig and in remembrance of the music gigs of my youth I decided to start a new series of posts where I will share with readers some of my favourite moments of gig-attendance throughout the years. I will start with the first heavy metal gig I ever attended: the Rock of Gods festival in Piraeus, Greece, on July 12 1996.

The news of the Rock of Gods festival hit during a summer English course that some of my friends and I were taking. The line-up included Slayer (a band that I worshiped and still do), Blind Guardian (another favourite among certain members of our group back then, myself included), Motorhead (not a favourite at the time, but, still, exciting), Rage (hadn’t listened to them at the time), Nightfall (Greek black metal band), and Fatal Morgana (Greek progressive metal band). At the time I was 15 years old. Although I wasn’t particularly young, my parents were negatively disposed to heavy metal music and the wider subculture. Yet, the congruence of several factors around Rock of Gods allowed me to convince my parents to permit me to go: it was a summer festival (so we didn’t have school-related responsibilities), it was taking place close to our home-town (Piraeus), and several of my friends would accompany me (among whom a friend my mother considered the “ideal student”). So, I bought a ticket.

Most of my memories are of peripheral things around the concert rather than the bands themselves. My friends and I (a group of five) met with some older kids from school in a public square, and together we took the bus to Piraeus. The fan credentials of those older kids were much better than ours; they had long hair, they wore cool old t-shirts, they knew all the bands, and they were doing drugs. Savvas, one of the older kids, grabbed me by my Iron Maiden t-shirt (Fear of the dark) and, half-jokingly, told me “when Rage come out on stage, I will kill you!”. I laughed, but I was also a bit worried. In any case I made a mental note not to be near him when Rage would come out.

The bus dropped us off and then we had to walk for a bit in order to get to dock 3 where the festival was taking place. Our group was walking alongside hordes of heavy metal fans with smiles in their faces. On the way to dock 3, I remember seeing the following slogan written in spray on walls: “Αγαπάς το Rock; 7χίλιαρο!” (“Do you love rock? Pay 7.000 drachmas!”). Although I remember getting the anti-commercial message of the slogan, I was also confused. I was not sure whether the slogan was directed to fans (that were seen as passive dupes of capitalism), music promoters (that were seen as exploiting the fans), bands (criticised for not playing for free), or the broader system including all those actors together (the culture industry). That was a festival that cost money to organise, with an international bill consisting of several awesome and successful bands, so I couldn’t see how the price would be an issue. Upon reflection, I guess it was meant as commentary on the culture industry; a system whereby heavy metal music is mass produced and marketed as a commodity. The slogan was trying to point out that “if you love rock music you are forced into market exchange relations”. The contradiction in this message is that rock music itself, as we know and love, is the product of the capitalist economy; an economy that is producing albums, and has allowed relatively affluent kids from around the world to own instruments and make bands like Slayer and Blind Guardian, that are eventually recruited by the music industry. I still think that rock music as a commodity should be critiqued, but that slogan did not offer any meaningful critique.

Inside the festival area the atmosphere was beautiful. I had never seen so many heavy metal fans at the same place. I remember feeling quite awkward and slightly scared, so I made sure I stayed close to my friends. Before any of the bands started playing, I spotted Thomen, Blind Guardian’s original drummer, in the crowd. The feeling of seeing one of my music heroes up-close was unique, so without much thought I went to get an autograph. Thomen was very friendly and happy to sign our ticket-stubs. I thought about my friend, Nick, who couldn’t attend the concert because he was away on holiday, so I found a piece of paper and asked Thomen to sign it for him. I gave it to Nick when he came back from holidays and the bastard couldn’t care less. Around that time, we heard the disappointing news that Motorhead were replaced by Saxon…

My memories of the actual bands are extremely blurry. I think I was over-stimulated, by the crowd, the bands, and the newness of the experience of a heavy metal festival, so being attentive of the actual music-listening experience was hard. One of the things I remember clearly is the asphyxiating atmosphere at the front of the stage. Especially when Slayer came out, kicking off with “South of heaven”, the heat combined with the the crowd crushing on me, made me feel faint. I was next to my friend Mark, and when the first notes of “South of heaven” came out of the amps we looked at each other with surprise and started screaming like the little fanboys that we were. Mark then asked me “which song is this!?”, to which I replied “Dead skin mask!”, a mistake that I eventually corrected a few seconds later. I have no other recollection of Slayer that night, apart from the fact that they played quite a few of the punk covers off Undisputed Attitude (1996), and, if I remember correctly, Jeff’s guitar with all the punk stickers. Similarly, I have almost no recollection of Blind Guardian, apart from “The bard’s song”. This is really peculiar, especially since I was dying to see them, and Imaginations from the other side (1995) was (and still is) one of my favourite albums of all time. Although I was not listening to Rage at the time (I fell in love with them after the concert) I vividly remember Peavy at the front of the stage singing “Alive but dead”. Under different technosocial circumstances, a recording of this concert would be widely available, and I would love to be able to experience it again. The only thing I could find online was the YouTube video below, of an audio track from Blind Guardian’s performance on that evening, 21 years ago.

Morbus Chron, At the Gates: Live at the Forum
December 10, 2014, 3:34 pm
Filed under: death metal, gigs, sweden | Tags: , , , ,

AT-THE-GATES-Triptykon-Uk-tourOn Thursday the 4th of December I had the privilege of experiencing live two brilliant bands on the same night, Morbus Chron, which I consider to be the most important contemporary death metal band, and At the Gates, the band that to a large extend defined death metal in the late 90s. Triptykon, the band led by Thomas Gabriel Fischer, leader of Celtic Frost and arguably the father of extreme metal, was also part of the bill as well as the US metalcore band Code Orange.

Morbus Chron‘s setlist consisted of six songs: “Hymns to a stiff” from the first album, “Black orb reverence” from the e.p. and “Towards a black sky”, “Ripening life”, “The perennial link” and “Terminus” from Sweven (2014). The band was casually dressed and wore light corpse-paint around their eyes. They opened with “Ripening life” and they appropriately finished with “Terminus”. Their sound was simply perfect and the songs off Sweven sounded much more powerful than on the album. None of the band members directly interacted with the audience. During the final moments of the closing song, the band members gradually left the stage, leaving Edde by himself contemplatively hitting the last few notes, ending a hauntingly perfect performance.

At the Gates‘ setlist included 18 songs from the entire career, minus the Gardens of grief e.p. They played “Kingdom gone” and “Windows” from the first album, “Raped by the light of christ” and “The burning darkness” off the second one, “Terminal spirit disease” off the third one, “Blinded by fear”, “Slaughter of the soul”, “Cold”, “Under a serpent sun”, “Suicide nation”, “World of lies” and “Nausea” off the fourth one, and “Death and the labyrinth”, “At war with reality”, “The circular ruins”, “Heroes and tombs”, “The book of sand” and “The night eternal” off the new album. The band came on stage while the intro off the new album was playing. They kicked off with “Death and the labyrinth” and finished with “The night eternal”, in a similar way to Morbus Chron, leaving only the Bjorler twins on stage. Their performance was great, Tomas’s voice sounded perfect. A couple of things that annoyed me were that the drums – probably triggered – were louder than the rest of the instruments and that Martin’s guitar was more prominent than Anders’s guitar, which was a shame as Anders is the lead guitarist.

During most of Triptykon‘s performance I was outside drinking and having a bite. Without meaning to sound disrespectful, I would rather be marking first year student essays than attending a Triptykon gig. Celtic Frost might have been pioneers and the first four of their albums will always be among my all-time favorite, but I don’t like Triptykon. At some point I was lucky to enter the concert space just before the band started playing “Circle of the tyrants“, so that was cool. The atmosphere while Triptykon were playing was how I would imagine a satanic ceremony to be like.

The ultimate highlight of the concert was undoubtedly Morbus Chron’s performance from beginning to end. I consider this band, right now, the pinnacle of death metal. I was really bummed that they did not play more songs. If they had played “Red hook horror”, “Ways of torture”, “Obscuritas” and “Aurora in the offing” I would have ripped my face off and thrown it on stage. Other highlights included the slow middle part off the amazing “The book of sand” off the latest At The Gates album, “Windows”, one of my all time favorite At The Gates songs, and “Terminal spirit disease”. Seeing At The Gates was very significant for me, since they were the second death metal band I ever listened to, after Benediction, and the band for which my admiration has not waned one iota since I first listened to them. I never got the chance to see them the first time around, before their break up in 1996, although I did see the Bjorler twins with The Haunted in Athens in September 1999 – and they played “Blinded by fear”. Of course, seeing the line-up that I first loved (minus Alf Svensson) was a whole new experience. In the end I bought two awesome Morbus Chron t-shirts and totally fan-boyed Edde, Dag and Adam from Morbus Chron.


Nomeansno in Brighton

After a prolonged period of no concerts at all, I experienced live two of my all-time favorite bands, Suffocation first and, then, Nomeansno a few days ago, within a period of three weeks. That was the second time I was at a Nomeansno concert, the first time being back in 2007.


Nomeansno has been a great love of mine since the first time I listened to them around 2002. I discovered Nomeansno in the context of my Jello-obsession; a period when I thought that whatever Jello Biafra touched turned into gold. Nomeansno had collaborated with Biafra on the album The sky is falling and I want my mommy, which was released in 1991. So, during my Jello-obsession I tried to get my hands on that record. Getting my hands on anything Nomeansno-related in Athens at the time proved to be very difficult. Until one day I found their CD The worldhood of the world (as such) at the Sonic Boom record store in Kypseli. However, I was not sure I was going to like them, since that was not their collaboration with Biafra I was looking for, so I asked George (the record store owner) to listen to the CD.  As Cheryl Lynn has said, it was instant love (not with George, with Nomeansno). Buying that CD was also symbolic of my transition from straight-on punk music to more “ambiguous” punk music.

Nomeansno tick most of the boxes on the “Best band in the world” list. They have consistently been releasing monumental albums since the mid 1980s. They are an amazing live band. They have been adding something new to their music with each new album. Their most recent offerings (e.g. All roads lead to Ausfahrt, Old, Jubilation) can easily compete with their best offerings from the past, although it is really difficult for me to decide which has been their creative-zenith. For some time I considered Wrong (1989) to be their best album, then I settled for Small parts… (1988). Then I switched to Dance of the headless bourgeoisie (1998) and more recently I particularly appreciated Why do they call me… (1993).

Their gig the other day was better than expected. The band was passionate and enthusiastic and gave an amazing performance. The setlist covered almost their entire discography. Glaring omission was the brilliant Small parts… album. Six Ramones songs where also thrown in for good measure in a show which included two encores! My favorite moments included, the tower, graveyard shift, the world wasn’t built in a day, slave, and everyday I start to ooze. After the gig I got their Jubilation e.p. which I couldn’t find since the time it was released back in 2011 and, like the good fanboy that I am, I got John and Rob to sign it for me.

Setlist: obsessed, the tower, oh no Bruno, everyday I start to ooze, ghosts, joyful reunion, the river, cats sex and nazis, he learned how to bleed, the world wasn’t built in a day, the graveyard shift, in her eyes, the hawk killed the punk, slave, Jubilation, sheena is a punk rocker, suzy is a headbanger, I don’t care, gimme gimme shock treatment, do you wanna dance, today your love tomorrow the world, plus another song which I did not know, probably from their Jubilation e.p.

Suffocation in Brighton

Last Tuesday I had the honor of attending for the second time in my life a Suffocation gig. Suffocation has consistently been among my all-time favorite death bands since I first listened to them around 1997. By that time European death metal was dying off, with cornerstones of the genre either disbanding (e.g. Carcass, At The Gates, Pestilence, Asphyx), morphing (e.g. Napalm Death, EntombedGorefest) or crossing (way) over (e.g. Massacra, Afflicted). Moreover, during and after that period many old-school bands, such as Unleashed, Grave, Benediction went into extended hiatuses (or maybe hiati?). During this period the European death-metal fan went through serious musical identity crisis. For sure bands like Bolt Thrower and Dismember went on but, still, with less enthusiasm. Shining exceptions to this trend were brilliant old-school bands such as Sinister (Hate, Aggressive measures, Creative killings, etc.) and Vader (De profundis, Black to the blind) which kept releasing uncompromisingly fresh and innovative death metal.

On the other side of the Atlantic, though, the majority of old-school brutal death metal was still going strong. Malevolent creation were releasing brutality in the shape of In cold blood and The fine art of murder, Deicide were releasing one of the best records in their career (serpents of the light), Monstrosity released the monster called Millennium, Cannibal Corpse were making a new (brutal) start with Vile. Most importantly a new breed of hyper-brutal death metal (e.g. Deeds of flesh, Dying fetus, Nile, Hate EternalDisgorge, etc.) was finding its identity and was making things very interesting. However, lack of interest (from both the media and the fans who were turning their attention to the new trends emerging during that period) in death metal in the late 1990s took its toll in the US too. Apart from Obituary, who disbanded after the release of Back from the dead, the other huge band that called it quits was the mighty Suffocationsuffocation_invert

The first album I heard from them was Pierced from within and it was love at first listen. I bought Effigy of the forgotten during one of my record-hunts of the summer of ’97. A while after that I bought Human waste from a local record-store (i.e. Paranoid). The last album they released before breaking up, Despise the sun, did not really impress me. I thought it was their weakest effort. For sure Culross’s drumming was fascinating, but I though that the music was not as versatile and groovy as their previous works. Anyway, when they got back together and released their masterpiece Souls to Deny, I was seriously chuffed. Me and my friends spent a lot of hours headbanging to that album. Although Cerrito was no longer there, the album was full of amazing grooves, crazy riffing and sick lyrics. Their next album was, in my opinion, equally unequaled. A true masterpiece. Since then they have released two more albums, both of which I like a lot.

The first time I saw Suffocation live was in Athens, in 2006. It was the first time I saw Frank live and it was kind of insane. Frank’s performance is something that everybody should experience in their lives. This second time that I saw them the line up was different. For one thing, Dave Culross has taken the place of Mike Smith. Mike has earned his place in modern music history as a true drum legend and nothing can change that. However, Dave is also an excellent drummer, passionate, fast, really fun to watch and, in terms of speed and precision, I think him too has earned his righteous place in death metal history (his drumming on Despise the sun and The fine art of murder have been blueprints of modern death metal drumming). The other big line-up change was that John Gallagher was filling in for Frank. Frank cannot afford to follow the band’s extensive touring plans because he has a day-job which pays the bills. Nobody can fill Frank’s shoes. However, I have to admit that John is brilliant. His vocals are extremely brutal and he can easily pull off Frank’s style, doing more justice to his extremely guttural style during the Effigy era. Not to mention that John is a mastermind of brutal death metal and his band (Dying Fetus) has probably influenced modern death metal as much as Suffocation has. During the concert, I was positioned near Terrance Hobbs, who is a death metal hero of mine, and I once more enjoyed watching him chugging out with passion and enthusiasm all these crazy riffs that have shaped modern music. Respect their authoritah!

p.s.1. Setlist: catatonia, liege of inveracity, infecting the crypts (closing song), mass obliteration, pierced from within, thrones of blood (opening song), funeral inception, purgatorial punishment, as grace descends, my demise, rapture of revocation. Definitely not my favorite setlist as it completely overlooked albums-monuments such as Breeding the spawn, Souls to deny and Suffocation.

p.s.2.The amazing artwork as seen above in its original form (I inverted the colors) is by Mark Riddick. Check out Mark’s art here.

p.s.3. Cephalic Carnage was one of the supporting bands and they were awesome!


It is an honour to have been a part of Bolt Thower‘s 26th birthday bash. Boltfest took place at the HMV forum in London yesterday, Saturday April the 7th and for many people it was a dream that came true. It is particularly hard to find so many amazing old-school death metal bands at the same place nowadays. It certainly cannot get any heavier than this bill. Bolt Thrower, Benediction and Autopsy are the ringleaders of heaviness in Death Metal (the only one missing was Asphyx). Discharge was and is the heaviest punk band of all times. Vallenfyre, apart from being one of the best things that has happened in death metal for quite some time, manifests levels of heaviness and brutality that match the prementioned bands.

Vallenfyre started the show around 6 as scheduled. The sound was not the best, but the songs are just so brilliant that can guarantee an enjoyable performance. Gregor’s voice was excellent and he was a pretty cool frontman too (and a musical genious). They played 8 or 9 songs which included grinding treats such as Ravenous whore and Humanity wept, brutal swedish-sounding offerings such as the excellent The divine have fled and Cathedrals of dread, and heavy mounfull dirges such as the majestic Seeds and The grim Irony. They ended their set with the amazing Desecration.

Benediction blew my mind. Even though I thought I was prepared not to get very excited with any of the bands in order to have enough strength to enjoy all of them, I failed to control myself. Benediction was the first death metal band I ever heard so I have a special relationship with them. Plus, they kicked off with Unfound mortality… Other masterpieces that were performed include Nightfear, Nervebomb, Jumping at shadows, The dreams you dread (I almost died on this one), Subconsious terror, they must die screaming, nothing on the inside and the ended with Suffering feeds me. I was expecting Karl Willetts to join them on Jumping at shadows as he did on the record but he did not. Also they cut that song short, which was a bit disappointing.

I had relatively recently seen Discharge, so when they played I decided to relax a bit and have a beer with my friends. Some of the songs I saw them play include Hear nothing, see nothing, Never again, Decontrol and some new songs as well (cctv). While Discharge played I went outside to get some fresh air. There I saw Anders from Unleashed who came all the way from Sweden for the event. True Death-metalhead! So I approached him and we had a nice talk. Again, I was pretty chuffed to meet him since Unleashed has been one of my all time favourite bands since high school. Discharge kept on playing and me and my friends decided to join the ridiculously long merchandise queue.

When Autopsy came out I was at the balcony and decided to see the rest of the concert from there as I was already a bit tired and it had amazing view and, as it turned out, very good sound. Autopsy are also big heroes of mine and true geniouses. Danny must have been completely wasted and he was acting like crazy but it was actually pretty cool to look at. However, I think that the mess-up of the monumental solo on Slaughterday might have been his fault. Joe and Eric were serious and particularly Eric demanded our respect! Chris was maniacal and his voice is probably the best voice in Death Metal. Included in the 10-11 songs they played were Charred remains, gasping for air, ridden with disease, severed survival, twisted mass…, in the grip of winter, dead.

Bolt Thrower‘s entrance was very epic and their overall performance was monumental. They played songs from all their albums in chronological order. From In batttle there’s no law and Honour, value, pride they played one song – In battle there’s no law and Inside the wire respectively. From Realm of chaos, Warmaster, IVth Crusade and Mercenary they played two songs from each and three songs from For Victory and Those once loyal. The highlights of their performance, personally, were World Eater, For victory (which Karl dedicated to his newborn daughter), The Powder burns (in which they skipped the intro and went straight to the melody), At first light and the amazing ending with When canons fade. I think that the audience particulalry appreciated the more groovy songs (From Mercenary and Those ones loyal). Before the concert I told my friends that it would be great if they ended the show with When canons fade and they did! A truly breathtaking song as was the entire concert. I hope that we’ll see more of those bands in the future not only because they are all part of a scene that offered the world of music something new and exciting, but also because all are sincerely into music regardless of money and success.

Dismember – in memoriam

Dismember has been my all time favorite band since the mid 90s. I discovered death metal through the sounds of Dismember and other great Swedish bands such as Unleashed, At the gates and Grave. The  first record I heard was the back then newly released Massive Killing Capacity. The impact of this album is probably much bigger than I can perceive. I remember getting a  guitar on my hands in order to learn to play the opening riff of “Collection by blood”. It further increased my already significant obsession with learning as much trivia as possible about bands. Categories started forming in my head about each individual member’s composing style. Within a few years and when a new album was coming out I could tell with certainty who had writen which song without even looking at the inner sleeve or booklet.

I passionately defended Dismember among my peers when I was hearing criticisms such as that they sounded like Entombed. I hated reviewers in music zines because they would come up with ridiculous reasons to compare them to Entombed. I remember asking the late Nikos Tagalos (of Sadistic Noise ) in the old Rock City (also RIP) whether Pieces was any good:

Tagalos: “what have you heard of them?”

Me: “Like an ever flowing and Massive killing”

Tagalos: “more brutal than both of them”.

One day in the summer of 1997 I spent all day in Metal Era with Jim (ex-Rotting Christ bass player) and his friends while waiting for the very first vinyl copies of Death Metal to arrive. I remember the day I listened to the promo-cd of Hate Campaign and I run home to tell my friends about it. The freezing day I streamed the song “where ironcrosses grow” before the release of the album (it was Sunday and it had snowed).

I got to see Dismember live in the summer of 2005, with a ticket my friend Joan gave me as a present for my birthday. I had the honour of meeting Matti, David and Fred on that day. I was super excited for meeting my heroes, them for seeing a fan with a Dismember tattoo on his arm. The concert was like a dream that came true. They even played Reborn in Blasphemy!

After the departure of Fred, I knew that the future of the band would be uncertain. Fred was the motivator, an important composer and the producer. Of course, one of the things I always liked about and respected Dismember for, was that it was not an one-man band. Every album was a collective effort. And before Fred left, I was equally bummed out about the departures of Robert and Rickard, both of whom are amazing composers.

Then I saw the band again in 2007 in Thessaloniki during a one-day trip.  I ended up spending the night sleeping at the entrance of a building because I spent all my money on records. The show was again amazing and I got to meet Tobias and again Matti and David. I also saw David around 12 o clock at night wandering around the streets of Thessaloniki looking for his hotel. I explained to him that he was going the wrong way and suggested he should get a taxi. He asked me how much it would cost because he was worried that the taxi driver would rip him off, and he had a point…

Dismember seemed to me like a band which had a very laid back work ethic, which is something I respect greatly. It was also a very humble band and having met them I can say that they were not taking themselves very seriously and their primary goal was to have fun and play music they enjoyed. They survived a period very difficult for extreme music (mid- to late-90s) and they did so with dignity. Ok they got a bit more melodic as time went by… but one can see those melodic elements even in their early works. They had always been more into melody than their contemporaries.

In a period of 20 years they offered the world some of the most beautiful music ever created, some phenomenal lyrics and some of the most powerful and extreme executions. They certainly co-defined what swedish death metal means. They consistently released flawless albums, a feat that only a handful of bands have managed to pull off. A week ago they anounced that they will call it quits. This post is an opportunity for me to thank them for being such an inspiring part of my childhood and adult life.

Brutal memoirs #2

As far as live gigs go, after many years and many gigs, I can say with confidence that the live show that I look back with most nostalgia and happy memories is the Cannibal Corpse gig in 1998 at Woodstock club in Athens (with Dark Funeral and Infernal Majesty). Even though I have experienced live many bands that I love more than CC (e.g. Death, Suffocation, Dismember, Pungent Stench, Entombed, Napalm Death, Slayer, Rage, Nomeansno, etc.), the configuration of factors that night (club, friends, performance) made it unique.

However, this post is about another not-so-significant gig which, however, is potentially of historical importance. That was the 2003 Misery Index-Nile-Sickening Horror gig at An club in Athens (you can see a picture of the ticket stub below). At that point I was pretty chuffed with the first Misery Index album (i.e. Retaliate) and already pretty bored with Nile, who had just released “In their Darkened Shrines” and I found it unexciting. My friends also didn’t want to join me, but I really wanted to see Misery Index so I went.


Misery Index gave indeed a great performance. Members of the audience showed their stupidity in several instances. My favourite moment is when a guy kept screaming “νερό ρε Netherton”, which translates into “Netherton give me some water”. After their performance I got the chance to have a chat with Netherton, Byers and a guitar player MI used to have back then, who kept asking me if I can get him a joint. All of them were super nice and polite and we talked about Dying Fetus and the right-wing direction they were taking after Netherton and co.’s departure.

The opening band, Sickening Horror, was a greek band that certainly amazed me with their super-technical, swampy and disturbed brutal death metal, which reminded of late 90s Morbid Angel, Gorguts, and in general the brutal technical scene that emerged around that time with ambassadors from all around the world (now that I think about it they also sounded a bit like Devilyn!). I also got their demo-cd for free in the entrance of the club. What amazed me most of their performance, though, was their drummer. I couldn’t get my eyes off him! And apparently, Nile couldn’t get their eyes of him either… The drummer’s name was George Kollias, now one of the most respected drummers in extreme metal circles, currently playing with Nile. I have no idea whether that night was the night when the connection between Nile and Kollias was made, but I think it could have been… And that I think would make it a minor part of brutal death metal history!