Photo: We Care A Lot Assets

It’s hard to beat an arena rock/metal show, especially on Friday the 13th. On top of this, the Judas Priest show was particularly special being that it was my 11th wedding anniversary—I guess I’ll have to do something extra crazy to make the 12th just as great.

Black Star Riders got the crowd rolling first. I had a lot of interest in seeing the band considering the Thin Lizzy connections of guitarist Scott Gorham. While not a founding member, he has been with the band since 1974. Black Star Riders, in effect, is an alternate version of Thin Lizzy. The band had initially played shows as Thin Lizzy, but decided out of respect for the original band they would continue as Black Star Riders. Unfortunately, the sound suffered severely, partly due just to the dreaded Vivint arena reverb and partly due to what seemed like a not-so-great overall mix. Hearing a disconnect between guitar on stage left and right is not an issue for a small show, but at an arena show it take its toll.

Sound issues aside, the band put forth a fun, energetic set. Vocalist/guitarist Ricky Warwick engaged the crowd frequently and traversed the stage with an energy fitting that of a band closely related to the legend of Thin Lizzy. Warwick’s vocals are eerily close to Phil Lynott’s vocals. Song highlights were “Kingdom of the Lost,” an Irish folk-inspired rock tune. There was also a cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak,” which is always tough to beat.

I had a bit of cynicism going into seeing Judas Priest, and I’m not even an old guy that can say I saw them 10 times in the ‘80s. So, getting a 12 song set from the mighty Saxon was fantastic. I felt the sound for Saxon was the most on point for the night, but by the time Priest came on my hearing may have been a bit spotty. The songs from the new album fit right in with the older cuts. Vocalist Biff Byford’s stage presence is mighty and light-hearted. Before the band played “Denim and Leather,” Byford requested a leather jacket and a denim jacket from the audience. He proceeded to wear the leather jacket for the song, and afterward he autographed both jackets and gave them back to the fans.

While Saxon’s set may have been very greatest hits-oriented, damn it was tight. I got a bit of a tear in my eye, but also that grand tribute feeling, when the group announced and played “They Played Rock and Roll.” Byford mentioned that the last time Saxon played in Salt Lake was with Motörhead – an ill-fated concert I attended. The ailing Lemmy and Motörhead tried to play, but couldn’t last. Byford stated prior to “They Played Rock and Roll” that the band wrote the song as a tribute to Motörhead. The whole set and stage presence from Saxon exuded that arena rock show attitude—I’m still smiling thinking about it.

Next came the current incarnation of Priest, interestingly enough introduced by a recording of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” which the crowd was singing along to. I say current incarnation because Rob Halford and bassist Ian Hill are the only original members left. Glenn Tipton, who has Parkinson ’s disease, did play on the latest Priest album, Firepower. But when the tour was announced, the group told fans that he would not be part of the live line-up. Filling in for him would be the Firepower album producer Andy Sneap. I felt this switch was kind of weird, and I did think he was the odd duck out as Priest continued to play.

After seeing the group play three times previously, this was easily the most diverse set I’ve seen. I kind of chuckled to myself about how man songs ending in “er”—“Grinder” “Sinner” and “The Ripper”—were all played in succession. The stage set-up had that old/new feel. While the backdrop had the trademark Priest prongs, but I couldn’t quite tell if it was supposed to be anything other than a bit inspired by the art for Firepower. The whole thing looked like cardboard on the backdrop of a giant video screen which basically announced each track and had themes for each song playing, with very minimal showing of the live band on a larger screen.

For me, one of the most exciting things was Halford’s vocals. At the time of the last show I saw (The Redeemer of Souls tour), there was a good deal of fan speculation that the aging Rob Halford could not hit his high notes like he used to. Those speculations came true, as that night his highs did not seem very high. However, during Friday night’s show for the Firepower tour, he was on point the whole night and was going through his range like he was still in his 20-30s. His stage persona, compared to previous outings, was very much the same, but his vocal performance was the reassurance I wanted and needed to make it feel like I was watching Judas Priest—not Halford solo or a Priest cover band. Also of note, guitarist Richie Faulkner, who was chosen by Glen Tipton to replace K.K. Downing in 2011, is a great fit for the current incarnation of Priest. Highlights of Priest’s set for me would be “Bloodstone” and “The Ripper.” Price of admission for this tour is well worth it for fans, newcomers or jackass cynical folk like me. Priest is alive and well almost 50 years since they began.

Erik Danielsson of Watain. Photo: Ester Segarra

It was two days before I turned 37. I was already feeling like an old man. For starters, I got to the venue about 15 minutes prior to show start and went to get my ID. It wasn’t in my wallet. I had forgotten to put it back in because I had it out to register online earlier in the day. That said, the feeling came more from increasing cynicism—the whole “get off my lawn” syndrome. I’ll be honest: I came to the Watain headline show to see the other bands on the bill because I like them more, adding to that whole cynical lack of an open-minded attitude. Also, I had seen Watain well over five years ago, and the only thing I really remember is from the crappy photos I took. Despite those weird, almost-40 feelings, by the end of the night I felt 10 years younger.

Three bands on a bill will help anyone feel younger—some of the package tours these days have over five bands. (I can’t even make a positive statement without it sounding negative.) Since I had forgotten my ID and had to go home and get it, I missed about half of Ares Kingdom—the only band on this tour I had not seen. The three-piece consisted of Mike Miller (drums) and Chuck Keller (guitars) of the infamous Order From Chaos from Kansas City, Missouri. What I did get to see was more than I expected. Ares Kingdom play nowhere near run-of-the-mill death/thrash metal. As much as the band is about the riffs and rhythms, Keller dished out some mighty fine guitar solos. They were a good way to start the show. While they do have a lot of chaos infused in their music, there remains a bit of control in it, providing a good contrast to Destroyer 666.

Australia’s Destroyer 666 are not ones to disappoint, and their past live shows were not ones to forget. They played Salt Lake in 2010, and I’m pretty sure I partially broke my neck that night. The band, other than founding member KK Warslut, now consists of a new lineup. Musically, things have both progressed and stayed the same. They just released an EP, Call of the Wild, which, compared to some of the past raw black/thrash nastiness, is by no means tame—it’s just a bit more composed. Destroyer 666 performed the EP’s title track, as well as “Traitor” and “Hounds at Ya Back” from the last full-length album. The entire set blazed with speed and intensity, as did KK’s demeanor. He has an extreme dislike for people filming Destroyer 666’s shows, and early on he kicked a phone out of a concert-goer’s hand. It worked—after that, there weren’t many phone screens out, and if there were, the audience members holding them looked like they were attempting to bootleg a movie in a theater. While I didn’t break my neck this time around, I did have a nice grin afterwards.

On to the main event. I left my preconceived opinions at the door for Sweden’s Watain. Just because I never got into the band doesn’t mean they don’t have merit. One element of their live shows is the band’s stage presence—as the band set up, so were two animal heads. They looked like sheep or goat heads, but I could be wrong. Instantly, the venue filled with the aroma of rotting flesh. The stage darkened for the most part, aside from some candles on a type of altar, with a drum kit adorned with animal bones. It looked like something out of a horror movie. The black metal intensity from the band was an interesting contrast to the rough black/thrash of D 666. The pounding drums and consistent speed only relented in between songs. The band is on tour to support their new record, Trident Wolf Eclipse. I will admit that I don’t really know any of the band’s songs, give or take a couple from 2007’s Sworn to the Dark. So even though I’ve previously had the live Watain experience, tonight’s set came to pretty much new ears and eyes. Vocalist Erik Danielsson held up a horned skull–type chalice. I knew what was in it—I was just waiting for it to be dumped, and so was the audience. Given the dark lighting, when Danielsson finally threw what was in said chalice—pig’s blood—into the crowd, I couldn’t see who got hit or if people scurried out of the way. (I did not see any bloodstained folks afterwards.)

The black metal assault continued with the corpse-paint members, playing relentlessly on their instruments. Danielsson would perform acts and rites with a torch and candles on the altar, though I’m not sure what they were specifically. At one point, he held the fire the animal head, smoldering it before quickly putting the torch out in a flash of sparks. I do applaud Watain for doing something out of the ordinary for their shows. The Satanic elements are obviously highly prevalent, and Watain successfully make their audience feel like they are part of an occult ritual. While they have their music on record, those comprise only a fraction of who Watain are. With record sales less prevalent these days, the live show is more important than ever, and in many ways, I feel a lot of folks come to Watain just for the experience. That’s a huge achievement for any artist. I left that evening forgetting my dwindling age for the time. Youth comes from where you find it—or maybe a blood sacrifice! –Bryer Wharton

Photo: Daniel Pacheco

The old Tooele Valley Hospital sits with a cemetery in its backyard. It’s a stark reminder of a person’s own mortality for anyone who visits. The hospital opened its doors in 1953, but for the last 12 years, it’s been home to the Asylum 49 haunted attraction (as in a staged attraction), which is apt to scare the piss out of folks who dare enter. The fear and dark atmosphere of Asylum 49 eerily complements the notoriously haunted hospital property. In addition to the haunted attraction, the owners of Asylum 49 have for the past 11 years hosted paranormal tours and investigations (as in actual paranormal-activity sightings) for the public.

Cami Andersen owns Asylum 49 with her husband, Kimm Andersen, and their niece and nephew, Dusty and Lyle Kingston, respectively. There’s a duality to Asylum 49 as a site for paranormal investigation tours of the building in the fall and also as a haunted attraction—The paranormal investigations are for the curious, and the real fear comes from the haunted attraction. It’s one of Utah’s few “full contact” haunted attractions. Participants have to sign a wavier to allow themselves to be touched by the cast of Asylum 49.

“You will be touched, may be carried off by the doctors, and may be separated from your group,” says Cami. “It is very intense and not recommended for children, adults who don’t like being scared, pregnant women or physically or mentally impaired individuals. Come prepared to be scared and to have fun with it! Full contact isn’t for everyone, so if you can’t handle the intensity, we would rather you not come.”

At first, nobody was aware that the hospital was haunted—“until we started experiencing strange and unexplained things like objects moving from one place to another, voices and other sounds being heard when no one else was in the building,” says Cami. With these experiences in tow, a paranormal investigation team came to explore the property. After multiple investigations, they deemed the hospital haunted, “with a staggering amount of evidence,” Cami says. The owners of Asylum 49 felt that it was important for others to experience the paranormal for themselves, so they began the ghost tours the season after they opened the Asylum 49 haunted attraction.

Cami says that there are two different experiences for the ghost tours. There are public tours, which she says are more geared for the entertainment factor, including a tour of the hospital for the curious or novices of paranormal investigations. For more seasoned researches, there are the private tours. Tours go from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., or there is also an overnight experience from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Cami, who runs the tours and is also a paranormal investigator and researcher, co-authored the book The Haunting of Ayslum 49 with Richard Estep. As to why she thinks that the hospital may be haunted, she says “It’s unclear why hauntings occur, though there are many theories. As for the hospital, it’s obviously a place where a lot of people have passed away. We are also right next door to the town cemetery. Another theory is that we frequently have people coming for the express purpose of talking to the spirits. I believe that they enjoy the conversation and the recognition that they are here—especially in a world where it’s unpopular to believe in their existence.”

Cami likes to keep the haunted attraction and the paranormal portion of the hospital separate, but sometimes the two collide for visitors of the haunted attraction in the fall. “Our spirits don’t always follow the rules and have been known to lead unwary customers into dead ends and get them lost in the mazes,” Cami says. “Oftentimes, they don’t even know they just met a ghost.”

What happens after we die is still one of life’s greatest mysteries. The quote, “Look, I know the supernatural is something that isn’t supposed to happen, but it does happen,” from the 1963 film The Haunting, always sticks in my head when it comes to the paranormal. As kids, we hear ghost stories, and so many people have their own paranormal experiences or wish to have them. Asylum 49 offers just that in their ghost tours, which are an extension of the owners’ own interest and research into that unknown phenomenon. “I have experienced things from EVPs to disembodied voices to objects moving to doors opening or closing to seeing full bodies’ apparitions and even talking to one,” Cami says. “We have a large amount of evidence that would suggest that there are both residual and intelligent hauntings occurring at Asylum 49.”

Asylum 49 is located in Tooele, Utah, at 140 E. 200 S. Haunt season goes until Nov. 4, Tuesday through Thursday, 7 p.m.–10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday p.m. to Midnight; Closed Sunday and Monday. Wednesdays are dubbed Wimpy Wednesday for people who want to experience the haunt without full contact. Ghost tours are offered December through August. For the rules of the full contact haunt and to find out more about the ghost tours, go to asylum49.com.

(L–R) Mike Cadaver and Shane Diablo drill to the bone with horror and exploitation films and local extreme music band members. Photo: Scott Frederick

Horror cinema and extreme/spooky tunes go together like fuck and shit. Usually, the shit is nodding your head to a screaming track or a tasty riff, and fuck is the verb you use when you see something shocking onscreen. Enter Corpse Cast, which is fast becoming a vocal commodity about local extreme music, horror/exploitation film and all things scary culture, with mostly guest musicians on air for nearly all of the last 30 episodes. Mike Cadaver and Shane Diablo started up Salt Lake City’s Corpse Cast in 2012, and it now has well over 200 episodes under its belt.


SLUG: Is there any type of subject that is too taboo or off limits for you to talk about?

Diablo: I am pretty much game for anything Mike throws my way … and Heavens to Betsy, he sure has thrown some curveballs, some really dirty, icky, disgust-oid films, and even some damn-right dumb, too, but it’s all in good fun.

Cadaver: I’d say there’s nothing off limits. There’s a few things that have given us a run for our money. Lucifer Valentine’s Slaughtered Vomit Dolls was a film that I almost couldn’t finish—not because it was scary or taboo, but because it was basically vomit porn. That was a tough one to get through. However, we’ll talk about basically anything. If you listen to our show long enough, you’ll learn we go down some pretty gnarly rabbit holes.

SLUG: When and why did you start to have interviews with musical acts?

Diablo: For me, it was just a change of pace. We had done some 180 episodes where we focused on an album from a band and a movie. Getting other people in the room, on the mics—especially bands—you’re bound to have some interesting conversations.

Cadaver: It felt right after a while, as I’d started meeting a bunch of local folks in the valley and becoming friends with them, to invite them on the show. We’ve had a ton of bands on that have so much talent and great music to share. We figured we’d be doing our listeners a huge favor by introducing them to these bands.

SLUG: What do you think is your most proud accomplishment from the podcast since it started?

Cadaver: I have a secret … I started this podcast as an excuse to have a regular playdate with Shane. I totally agree with him about the rapport. I just have so much fun doing this show. I’d say, however, our most proud accomplishment from the podcast is that we were discovered by a fledgling media company a couple of years back. Our show was added to a lineup of other horror-themed shows through Zom-Bee TV. It’s now defunct, but we were flown out to Washington, D.C., and Virginia to do some press for the channel. We were able to visit The Exorcist stairs and go sightseeing around D.C. Since then, we’ve also put out our own channel. It’s available on the web and Roku as premium content. In fact, I’m in the process of building an Android and iOS app for our channel. The intent is to actually provide a media platform for smaller-content providers to have a way to distribute their videos, audio, etc.

SLUG: What do you think is the strongest part of Utah’s extreme music community?

Cadaver: I think that there is a shit-ton of talent in Salt Lake City. We have a small scene compared to other places (or so I’m told), but I can’t imagine a more passionate group of people. I can’t believe that the quality outside of Salt Lake (and Utah) is much if any better than it is here.

SLUG: Of your podcast, audio/video is a paid portion. Why did you decide to do this, and what do folks who pay get that is extra?

Cadaver: All of our audio podcasts are totally free. We have a ton of extra content as part of our premium. We’ve got a video version of our show; we have behind-the-scenes shenanigans, video of shows we’ve filmed, a bunch of episodes of little shows we produce, and a ton of old-school horror and exploitation flicks available. You can subscribe for however much you want, at least $1 a month. We use the money from that to buy and maintain our equipment, pay hosting fees and supply us and our guests with beverages a plenty! Visit premium.corpsecollective.net for more information on that.

To livestream the Corpse Cast, follow facebook.com/cadaverlab and tune in on Fridays at 7 p.m. You can also tune in on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcatcher feeds. One thing is certain: There is never a dull moment on the cast—it is your go-to for horror and exploitation films and passionate musical guests. You never know what you will get when you tune in.

Perturbator brings a metal-informed barrage of dark electronic music to Metro on Sept. 6. Photo: David Fitt

Finely crafted via machines but conceived by a human mind is an underlying and common theme for French electronic music artist Perturbator. Perturbator is James Kent, who began his musical journey as a black metal guitarist. He’s set to perform in Salt Lake City on Sept. 6 with Visigoth and Darklord at the Metro Music Hall. It’s no wonder that fans of metal are also fans of Perturbator’s sound—Kent has his metal background, so in essence, it is metal-oriented electronic music. “I want to make something that would remind someone of a metal album, but it’s still made by all machines,” says Kent.

My introduction to Pertubator’s music came from an indie video game that exploded, Hotline Miami 1 and its sequel. Set in the ’80s, the game is simple but tough. Its graphics compare to the 16-bit style, like an SNES top-down game. I remember late nights constantly dying, all while the beats of “Miami Disco” and “Technoir” pounded my skull. “It’s a very aggressive game,” Kent says, “a very violent game but also simple. It being simple—that’s the charm of it. It’s fast, too … so I guess it was a good fit for my music.” Kent says that he is grateful for the exposure the game brought to his music and cited it as a big launching pad for his career.

The success of Perturbator lies in his ability to transcend genre, gaining fans outside the electronic music scene. Many are quick to call it retro because of its ’80s thematic elements, but Kent says that he doesn’t want it to be just a nostalgic sound but for it to come across as new, his own unique creation.

As a guitarist, Kent struggled to find his way as he was in strictly local black metal bands in France. One almost succeeded, but it didn’t work out, and he found himself without a band. That’s when he came unhinged and decided that if he was going to make music, it would be completely on his own. “I still had this need to make music,” says Kent. “I don’t do it because I expect something from it. [If] I don’t do it, I’m going to go mad, really.” Kent had had no prior experience in electronic music, but he wanted that creative control over every aspect. He had felt limited being in a band, though this feeling arose from his sincere sense of artistry as opposed to anything egotistical. Despite that there are plenty of black metal solo artists and metal artists who derive inspiration from retro acts, Kent wanted something new, and it did not come without a heavy amount of work.

Kent learned from nothing—the only thing he knew, from his guitarist background, was how to compose a track. “The rest of it, fiddling with machines … was really unknown to me, so I had to learn on the fly, and of course, I never thought that Perturbator would get any recognition at all,” he says. “I really started from a blank page, kind of where I was not even aware of electronic music as a whole as a genre, [and] I didn’t listen to electronic music … The only thing I had in mind, the only thing I could catch on to as a sort of inspiration was John Carpenter, Tangerine Dream—all those ’80s soundtracks I was very familiar with because it’s the type of movies that I watch, mostly. It’s like John Carpenter if he was super angry and trying to do like metal but still with machines.” It’s impossible to learn without trial and error, which is what Kent did. He got better and better with time. The process was not just crafting Perturbator tracks but also learning the mixing and mastering process. The end result is Perturbator today, who’s released four studio albums and a slew of EPs and singles. “I’m fully confident with electronic music composition,” he says, “perhaps even more than writing metal.”

It all goes back to that underlying idea of that man who creates machines. It fuels Perturbator’s existence and engenders the themes of his albums, the latest being The Uncanny Valley, released last year. It’s easily Perturbator’s most aggressive album, with the blazing opener, “Neo Tokyo,” and “The Cult of 2112”—heavy, hard-hitting and faster, with a dark edge. Its theme is a cautionary story, one of machines or robots becoming sentient and more advanced than their human creators. He mentioned inspirations tying in with religion and a complicated theory called Roko’s Basilisk: “It’s like the theory that eventually, some day, we’d be able develop artificial intelligence so advanced that it will be almost god-like,” Kent says. “It will know everything. It will be able to solve every problem and so it will be like a god, but it’s still a human creation, so how does that work?”

Perturbator is not a DJ set: Kent plays multiple synthesizers and controls effects and transitions while there is a backing track coming from a machine. Hence, man and machine will integrate together when Perturbator performs in Salt Lake City at Metro on Sept. 6. Perturbator, while derived from machines, is also invoked by one man—a performance that balances artifice with artisanship.

Photo: John McMurtrie.

Take one of the biggest up-and-coming hard rock/heavy metal artists, Sweden’s Ghost, and the legacy and domination of one of the founding heavy metal artists of all time, Iron Maiden, and you have an ultimate live concert experience.

Ghost play about a 40-minute, eight-song set. The songs, for the most part, did sound like they do on record. The Ghost’s strength—in taking the opening slot during which they obviously have to strip down their normal headlining antics—came from enigmatic frontman Papa Emertius. His conversations with the crowd were lighthearted and engaging, fitting for a band that has dark lyrical themes with a pop-music twist—hence Ghost’s emerging popularity with riff-heavy but pop-twisted tunes that come off catchy as hell. The growing crowd was quickly engaged with the ultra-catchy “Square Hammer,” calling for listeners to swear for the devil. I did an interview for SLUG with Ghost in 2012 as they were touring for their debut record, which made me think about that early time when Ghost talked about their goals to garner a larger following. Now, Ghost is definitely on the cusp of that goal, playing in such a large setting.

Iron Maiden are a road-hardened band that have the ability to bring the spectacle of a stage show. However, Bruce Dickinson’s vocals were at most times inaudible, full of reverb and cut-outs. I saw Iron Maiden at USANA in 2012 for the Maiden England Tour, and the sound was absolutely fantastic—especially for an outdoor show. So it was a bit of a shock that the sound with respect to Dickinson’s vocals was not corrected even in the slightest. With the Air Raid Siren—a term coined for Dickinson’s vocal prowess—broken, it was irksome. If it wasn’t broken, it would have made for a prime heavy metal experience—still, Maiden reigns supreme.

The Salt Lake Tribune’s headline for Eric Walden’s review of the concert stated, “Sorry, Iron Maiden, but Ghost stole the show.” Walden said in his review about Iron Maiden’s performance, “Problem was, it didn’t particularly feel afterward like I’d seen something legendary. And my socks didn’t go anywhere.” I have to firmly disagree with that sentiment—by the end of Iron Maiden’s set, my socks were nowhere to be found, while after Ghost’s performance, my socks were snug on my feet.

There have been fan complaints on social media and complaints in other online reviews, even the Tribune’s review, about songs that Maiden did not play. Fans knew this going to the show: It is “The Book of Souls Tour,” The Book of Souls being Iron Maiden’s latest full-length album released in 2015, which is conceptually based around ancient Mayan culture. Out of Iron Maiden’s 15-song set, the band played six songs from The Book of Souls album, including two that run over 10 minutes in length. I did not care one bit. The sound mixing for the guitars and drums was on point. Iron Maiden are a live band—yeah they’re great on record, but when you get the mixing of three guitarists, bass and drums—all with cohesive ease—and grandiose, galloping riffs with harmonies and melodies absolutely crushing everything, you just can’t beat that. It’s a complete guitar-ear orgasm.

Photo courtesy of John McMurtrie.
Photo: John McMurtrie

The only cut that didn’t engage me was the show opener, “If Eternity Should Fall.” Everything else was mind-blowing. While the shorter “Speed of Light” and “Death or Glory,” were rocking, the longer “The Red and the Black” and “The Book of Souls” gave me goosebumps.

Yeah, the vocals were screwed up. The set wasn’t filled with fan favorites of the most common music per Iron Maiden–live tradition, but the stage only reinforced Iron Maiden’s live domination. The stage setup was simple and, in many ways, classic Maiden: a small re-creation of Mayan ruins with torches that would ignite in a fun pyrotechnics display with changing backdrop images of Iron Maiden’s mascot, Eddie, in different artistic renditions. Maiden don’t rely on new technology to put on a show. The only use of any type of video was from USANA’s own gear projecting video onto the sides of the stage—the stage setup, the appearance of Eddie, pyro, lights, a massive Eddie head and a giant Beast all could have been a stage show for Maiden straight out of the ’80s. The stage imagery was constantly ignited by the band’s non-stop energy. Classic Dickinson  ran around the stage jumping off of fixtures, and the guitarists swung their axes around with ease and constantly traversed the stage to the point of a sort of leg-stretching yoga pose.

Ghost did put on a fun show, engaging the audience with a great sound. It still cannot top the live experience of Iron Maiden—there’s nothing on earth like it, and there never will be. There’s a reason that Maiden have performed legendary shows like the Rock In Rio performances, one in 1985 that had Iron Maiden playing to 300,000 fans and one in 2002 playing to 250,000 fans. Friday, July 7, 2017 in West Valley, Utah, 20,000 fans came to pay homage to the legend that is Iron Maiden and spent their hard-earned money on inflated beverages and food, but I swear that 70 percent of the crowd had brand-new Iron Maiden T-shirts—and I heard not one complaint from a single fan after the show. Iron Maiden are the ultimate live heavy metal band.

Antichrist | Photo: Maria Lindberg

It feels like a privilege to get some questions answered by the not-so-self-promoting Swedish thrash attack that is Antichrist. It’s a rare insight into a band that largely keeps internet information sparse other than when they are playing shows—in an age where most bands use every nugget of cyberspace to talk about their band. They’ve got a show coming up at the Urban Lounge on July 10 with Visigoth, Goat Disciple and Envenom. This is one of those shows that reminds folks how alive the underground is, and word of mouth is a more powerful tool than any major label or sponsor backing. Antichrist have a new album Sinful Birth full of ugly speedy-thrash disdain drenched in a foggy guitar reverb. The power of the word of mouth, for Antichrist, manifests in the fact that their music is so strong that it promotes itself. The quintet dishes out an old-school thrash style that doesn’t rehash the old gods of thrash. Also, lyrics heavily revolve around cult horror films. Guitarist Gabriel Forslund offers insight into the thrash mystique of Antichrist.


SLUG: Your first demo came out eight years ago. How have things been for the band since you first released that demo up till now with two full-length albums?
Antichrist: It’s been alright, I guess. The only thing that sucks is that we’re all spread out in different cities across Sweden. That results in a very limited amount of time to work on new material together, as you might understand.

SLUG: This whole media-coined term “thrash revivalism” has been around for a long time now. The only reason I feel that the term or variations of it exists is because so many bands, for over a decade now, commit themselves to sounding similar to classic bands. When you started, what was your motivation to sound how you sound?
Antichrist: Our motivation was just our own ideas, I would say. We’ve never been a band that wants to be like another band from the past. Of course, we’ve been inspired by a lot of bands from the ’80s and even further back in time. I guess we were tired of all the lame new thrash that just uses the same boring riffs and sing about eating pizza and smoking weed. Fuck that.

SLUG: Sinful Birth has just been released. From what I have listened to and compared to your first full-length, there is just a big difference in production. It’s a bit cleaner and has a bit more bulk to its sound than Forbidden World. What did you do differently for the new album that you may have wanted to and couldn’t for the last album?
Antichrist: We worked with a great guy who really gave us a lot of freedom in the studio. Then we also used some great amplifiers this time. On Forbidden World, we had a million problems in the studio with the amplifiers. Also, back then, we worked with people that really didn’t understand or share our vision of how the album was meant to be.

SLUG: I’m asking even though it feels obvious: The last record, Forbidden World, it’s named after the film, right? I assume because in the interviews I found online—with Iron Fist Zine—you mentioned a love of horror films. How does that love find its way into your music?
Antichrist: It affects not the creation of single riffs but more the overall sound and feeling of one song. It also has its way to inspire us when it comes to write lyrics. A lot of our lyrics are inspired by films— not mainly a whole film, but more the ingredients of one.

SLUG: Is this U.S. tour you’re doing the first tour you have done in the States? If you have toured here before, how has the response been here compared to in Europe?
Antichrist: No, it’s our second tour over here. In general it’s been really good. People over here seem to be much hungrier for and more enthusiastic about our sound. I guess the crowd here is a bit more open minded, and also they’re probably not used to the way we do things, so for them it’s something “fresh.”

SLUG: Another nugget I found in the interviews I dug up: Iron Fist Zine and Noisey both mentioned this whole Fenriz “band of the week” thing as a big launching point for the band—those interviews seemed hugely to emphasize that as a launching point for your early years. Was that really a big deal for the band?
Antichrist: I don’t really know, but of course, it was a great way to reach out to new listeners in the underground. He’s a wise man with a good taste and a lot of followers, so yeah.

SLUG: One of my biggest admirations of your music is, I’d call it, fuzziness or a haze of reverb, I’d say, which seems to cover all of your songs. So many artists emphasize clear production sounds these days. In the early days of thrash metal, everything was analog, so it had that fuzz to it, which, for me, imparts that great live quality to the music. Question is: What is the main sonic quality you strive to achieve, recording and live?
Antichrist: Atmosphere and danger the feeling of not being safe at all.

SLUG: You have an impressive, over-10-minutes-long instrumental track, “Chernobyl 1986,” on the new album. What was the inspiration behind the track, and does it/do you think it will ever make you live shows?
Antichrist: The inspiration was Eastern Block misery and pain. I guess there’ll come a time when we will play it live. 

SLUG: I looked into Antichrist is because you’re playing a show in Salt Lake City, Utah. I found some older interviews you had done for some background, but your online presence is small. Is there any large or small reason that your online information presence is small—where so many bands these days use it as a huge promotion tool?
Antichrist: We’re not an internet band. We usually post when we’re about to play. I think promotion is great, but being used in a somewhat lame way in some cases. Like for example: Bands that never even rehearsed a song bragging about their new band on social media platforms. I hate that. Let the live shows and records do the talking. 

SLUG: I fully believe that if a larger label had picked you up and there was widely dispersed press about the band, you would probably have a bigger following than you may have now. That said, the lack of information that exists about Antichrist is admirable. It’s a testament to the underground and the old-school style of simple word of mouth, where fans have to dig hard to find the great bands hiding in the underground. That said, would you ever consider a larger-label offer?
Antichrist: I don’t know. Usually, bigger labels are shit, in my opinion. It’s a real nasty business were a lot of smaller bands get fucked and run over by greedy people. There are some bigger labels that have been trying to convince us, but we’ve never got a real good deal from any of them. It’s more nice and a lot better to work with friends who run smaller labels

SLUG: What would you say your live show is like? Is there anything aside from your music and stage presence that makes seeing an Antichrist show something special?
Antichrist: Unpolished intensity. We’re not a professional band and everything can happen.

SLUG: What if anything would you describe as an ultimate success for the band?
Antichrist: Money, women, fast cars and huge mansions.


There is only one thing to do when Antichrist come to town, July 10 with Visigoth, Goat Disciple and Envenom at the Urban Lounge: Get your skull completely crushed. Just give “Savage Mutilations” a listen— everything is pummeling, riffs, drums, leads and vocals. It’s definitely a new mutilation of thrash/speed metal.

Photo courtesy of World Entertainment Inc.

Morbid Angel are no stranger to enigmatic frontmen. In 1997, when vocalist/bassist Steve Tucker replaced David Vincent, Morbid Angel went into an arguably experimental phase, sounding quite different from the more death/thrash–influenced first four albums from the band. They released the highly praised Formulas Fatal to the Flesh album, which offered a more straight-up, aggressive death metal style with slower rhythms and some more experimental guitar work from guitarist Trey Azagthoth, and also instrumental, synth-oriented songs like “Ascent Through The Spheres.” Tucker brought in a new era to Morbid Angel, continuing with Gateways to Annihilation and, a year after the 2003 album Heretic, they saw Tucker leave the band. Tucker remained absent from the realm of music until 2011, with the Nader Sadek project and then his own band, Warfather, who released their second album last year. Tucker talks history and future for Tucker’s era in Morbid Angel, having returned to the band 2015. Morbid Angel headline a slew of summer dates with support from Suffocation, Revocation and Withered, which makes a stop in Salt Lake City on June 10 at The Complex.


SLUG: What brought you back as the Morbid Angel vocalist? You have had success and been active with Warfather … Is that a project you’re still actively working on, playing in both bands?
Morbid Angel: What brought me back is pretty simple: the Morbid Angel fans and the opportunity to create music with Trey. That is what brought me to Morbid Angel from the very beginning. Trey is like a mad scientist: You never know what ideas he will bring to the table, but I guarantee they will always be something new, possibly even genre-changing.  For now, Warfather will take a rest. I prefer to focus on one thing at a time, and MA are what I am focusing on now, however, I have learned to not say the word never …

SLUG: It had to be a huge step for you—not really in much other musical projects and to join Morbid Angel—big shoes to fill. What was it like when you first joined up with a band that already crushed so many boundaries?
Morbid Angel: That is actually a bit funny—a huge step maybe because of the touring, which I had not previously done—however, I truly feel that it was inevitable that I would be doing this [sort of thing] anyway. Prior to joining MA, I was in a band called Ceremony in my hometown with Pat O’Brien, now in Cannibal Corpse. We were drawing plenty of attention from labels and the underground. The recording we did together helped too secure us both our current positions. As to me having to fill big shoes, I was never even slightly intimidated. I have always done my own thing—it is me, the real deal. No disrespect intended but some people are real and some put on an act …

SLUG: This is a pretty big tour in the states, with Suffocation … My burning question is: Will all eras of Morbid Angel be played? Or will there be a focus on the era that you were in?
Morbid Angel: Formulas Fatal to the Flesh was released nearly 20 years ago, followed by Gateways and Heretic, meaning that this band, with [me], has its own history. We feel it is time to focus on the fantastic music that we created together. I have done many tours playing music from all eras of MA, and I am sure that we will always do “classic,” all-era MA songs, but we also feel that we created many “classic” MA songs together and will focus more on those at this time.

SLUG: Nothing really against David Vincent, but I only saw Morbid Angel with him in the band once. The other times, I saw the band with Jared Anderson (Extreme Steel Tour and Motörhead Tour). Those times stood out more to me than recent. Question being, what do you think that you bring to the live presence that differs from the Vincent version?
Morbid Angel: Some may disagree with me on this, and that is fine, but I feel that MA are a much meaner band with [me] and Jared, when he filled in … Jared and [I] were similar people. He was a very real person.

SLUG: The Nader Sadek project was kind of your return to music. Why the absence from doing anything for so long?
Morbid Angel: There is no clear answer to this question. Time goes by very fast at times, and this was a time in my life that went by very quickly. I was busy with other, very important personal things. It didn’t seem like a very long time to me.

SLUG: Also, I remember first when Nader Sadek started out. He actually reached out to me to chat and get some promotion. The guy is intense and was so stoked to have you involved. How was working with him and that project? Is it something you would consider, if the offer came up?
Morbid Angel: It was a good time at the time, and we definitely became friends during the project, however, as I said earlier, it is one thing at a time for me, and MA have me pretty busy. The cool thing about the NS Project was the influx of people from different areas on the collaboration. I felt all along that it should be a constantly changing, evolving group of people to keep it always new. Otherwise, it is not a project; it is a band. I am glad I was involved when I was and that it has become what it is currently.

SLUG: I’ve seen it’s pretty much confirmed that Morbid Angel are working on a new record (http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/steve-tucker-on-songwriting-progress-for-next-morbid-angel-album-its-much-further-than-the-initial-stage/). How is that process going? How involved are you with the writing, and what do you feel is the strongest part of the current incarnation of Morbid Angel?
Morbid Angel: We will soon mix the new album, and I am very excited for what we have created. Obviously, I think that Trey and [I] working together is proven and the strongest element. However, the new drummer, Scott Fuller, brings his own touch to the album. I have always been more about the team than the individual, and this team is strong.

SLUG: Any chance fans will hear any new material live on this upcoming tour?
Morbid Angel: Yes, we may play one or more during this tour 

SLUG: I wanted to ask: There have to be some pretty special moments with your time in Morbid Angel. Is there any moment that stands out to you from past to present as something special?
Morbid Angel: Yes, of course. It was very special to me when FFF was released as well as Gateways. Playing Wacken and the Roskilde festivals was amazing, along with many other shows.

SLUG: It’s unavoidable not to deal with expectations being in Morbid Angel. Lots of fans didn’t take to III, and you’re back in the band working on touring and following that up with a new album. Do you take any of the type of fan expectations to heart, or are you focused on doing what you do and making the best of it?
Morbid Angel: I find solace in knowing that what I bring to MA has not changed. The fans know what to expect with me, and I feel no pressure to do anything other than what I have always done.


In addition to the plan to solely play songs only from his time in Morbid Angel on this tour, a new song, a bootleg of the song “Warped,” has surfaced online. This is a huge difference from the last tour Morbid Angel show in Salt Lake, which featured Vincent on vocals performing the band’s third album, Covenant, in its entirety. See Tucker at the helm of a band with some renewed ferocity and goals in sight on June 10 at The Complex in Salt Lake City with support from Suffocation, Revocation and Withered.


Editor’s Note: The original version of this article incorrectly listed that Covenant is Morbid Angel’s second album, when it is the third. The changes have been amended.

The Obsessed | Photo by Susie Constantino

The list of bands that vocalist/guitarist Scott “Wino” Weinrich has lent his hand and voice to is roughly 15. Right now, his focus is all about his first band, The Obsessed. Wino reformed the band (originally known as Warhorse) a few years ago. The band just released a hard-hitting, riff-blasting new album Sacred, on April 7. Now they are off on the road, bringing The Obsessed to fans who may have never gotten to see them. They play in Salt Lake City on April 24 at The Metro Music Hall with Fatos Jetson, Karma To Burn and Muckraker. Sacred is a great display of everything The Obsessed has offered up in the past and a whole new batch of diverse and catchy songs. Wino discusses The Obsessed’s reunification, the new record, a bit of Wino’s history with music and even a little bit about a supergroup that he was involved with called Shrinebuilder.


SLUG: When did you decide to resurrect The Obsessed and why?

Scott “Wino” Weinrich: Well, it had a lot to do with a chance jam with our drummer Brian Constantino. We were doing Spirit Caravan, and he was a friend and tech guy way back in the day with The Obsessed. I hadn’t seen him for 30 years or so, but during the Spirit Caravan tour with Eddie [“DameonGulli,] he came back into the picture because he and Eddie were pretty tight, and he used to be Eddie’s tech. Eddie was the last Obsessed drummer who we enlisted for the last incarnation of Spirit Carvan as well.

We had a chance jam. I didn’t even realize that there was a 30-year interim that Brian and I hadn’t seen each other, and he had become quite the proficient drummer. So when Spirit Caravan eventually folded, I then called Brian—two years ago, I think, on New Year’s Eve—and asked if he wanted to jam with me, and we were jamming, and Dave Sherman [drummer for Spirit Caravan] rolled his gear over one night, and we decided to do The Obsessed. Brian was really never really in Spirit Caravan but anyway … [With] his enthusiasm and him being born and raised on The Obsessed, it was his favorite band. That enthusiasm and technical ability really inspired me, so I was energized. We took it on the road for a minute, and then we were approached by Relapse Records about doing a record, and I was totally up for, it so we dug in.

SLUG: I really like “Razor Wire,” the single from Sacred. It’s really catchy. What inspired the lyrics for it and the main riffs in that track? It’s a solid song.

Wino: The lyrics for “Razor Wire” have quite a bit of real-life experience in them—also with a bit of wishful thinking. Obviously I can’t put arrows in fucking informants and walk around free, so there is a little bit of fantasy there. It’s all about being wrong when you’re right. It’s all about the passion of living for the day, for the music, for the fucking real feel, man.

SLUG: I do have to say: A huge strength of the new album is how well it fits with the prior Obsessed releases. Considering the different lineup since the last Obsessed album, what do you think make Sacred such a strong record, and how did you try make it fit? Did you consciously try to make it fit with the other releases, or is that just how it happened?

Wino: I believe—and also I was told by a bunch of people—that the bar was set pretty high by the previous band. The difference is that I think Sacred is pretty diverse—the musical movements and vibes are pretty diverse from song to song. I’m happy about that. … We had to dig pretty deep to get all the songs on this record. I think a lot of the positive vibe of Sacred was the fact that it seems to work. The Church Within days were a lot different. It’s like we were locked under the boot of the record company—it held sway. It still had a boot on the neck, so to speak. These days are a lot different, with the advent of the internet and very forward labels like Man’s Ruin. … It just feels like the timing is right for The Obsessed right now. Like I said, it has a lot to do with the speed of information. It also has a lot to do with the people: The people at our label are fans and artists. I just feel like even though these are troubling times worldwide, with the strange political and socioeconomic climate. I think it’s a very cool time for this type of music. I’m embracing it.

SLUG: You’ve been really active with Saint Vitus, and you kind of took the reigns after you joined—I think, in a way. (No discredit to the first couple albums—I listen to Born Too Late more than those.) Did that increase in activity with Saint Vitus have anything to do with the end of The Obsessed? I don’t really know how or why The Obsessed wound up breaking up …

Wino: With The Obsessed, we were signed to Columbia in ’93, basically. I was with Saint Vitus since, like, ’85, ’86, and we didn’t do our first little jaunt till ’87 … I think ’89 was our first European tour, and we started working. The thing about it [with] The Obsessed circa that era [was that] we were just spinning our wheels, [and] we were getting nowhere. When I was with Vitus, we had the opportunity to go overseas. There was the enthusiasm of the European audiences … so we decided to sign to a European label. I took the opportunity to get the German label that did the Vitus record to release the first Obsessed record—that’s why it came out on Hellhound. I kind of became the talent scout for Hellhound after that. I will say that Saint Vitus is Dave Chandler’s baby—he wrote everything. He wrote the lyrics for Born too Late; I wrote the lyrics for “Blessed Night,” “Looking Glass,” “When Emotion Dies” and some instrumentals, but that’s it. I could always identify with Dave’s lyrics, so I felt really empowered by it. I think I really learned how to sing in that band. When Vitus first split, it had a lot to do with that I couldn’t identify with the music and lyrics with Children of Doom. I just couldn’t get behind that stuff, so I decided to leave for whatever reason [in 1991, later reuniting with Saint Vitus in 2003]. Of course, my tenure with Vitus ended a couple years ago, after an incident in Scandinavia, and they chose to carry on with the original singer. I’m actually proud of those dudes—man, we’re all friends. They are really hitting Europe hard, and they chose to carry on with Scott Reagers. I think a lot of people never really got to see that lineup. It’s like I’ve always said: If David wants to do a reunion of some type, I’m always up for it.

That kind of leaves the timing open for everything that [has] happened with The Obsessed. I think the record is solid. I think, really, for me, it was a blessing in disguise in a way: In order to get into that role as the lead singer of Saint Vitus, I had to get my head in different place, [and] that wasn’t always the most healthy thing for me to do. Everything happens for a reason. I’m really proud of Sacred. My focus is solely on The Obsessed now, so I’m pretty happy.

The Obsessed
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Prong. Photo Courtesy of Freeman Productions

“Great power, great range, so deafening … More power, more gain, more mastery.” The lyric from Prong’s 2014 full-length, Ruining Lives, does a great job at describing what the New York crossover artists are about. Riff-and groove-heavy songs and subtle to prominent melodies give songs that catchy edge, and Prong have the power and the range and they still continue to develop their mastery.  You can see it manifest itself live on May 7 at the Depot in Salt Lake City, when Prong join Sepultura as support for Testament.

The band originated in 1986 with a huge pedigree of members that include Ted Parsons (Godflesh), Paul Raven (Killing Joke), Charlie Clouser (Nine Inch Nails) and so much more. The man behind the band, guitarist/vocalist Tommy Victor says, “I was a bass player in bands as a kid. I got thrown into the guitar player-role with Prong. So I always took a more percussive attitude towards guitar. Most is based on the rhythm, so I want that chunk and high end heard so I can play in my unorthodox way.”

Like a lot of people, I probably heard Prong through the radio with the song that broke the band wide open “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck.” It prompted me to go buy everything I could find from the band—the thrashy but defining, crossover-oriented Force Fed, the groove busting Beg to Differ. But damn, ’94’s Cleansing and the—love it or hate it—industrial-styled Rude Awakening were jams that I pounded out of the shitty speakers in my 1984 Buick Skylark in high school. I asked Victor about the success of “Snap Your Fingers.” While it’s a hugely popular song, after I got into the band, I found so much more. “It’s a killer song!” says Victor. “I’m very proud of it! Who wouldn’t be? We took some chances, and it turned out well. I’m glad we were bold enough to step out of the box.”

Tommy Victor working at the infamous CBGB’s in New York and being in the scene in NYC—including Lower East Side art rock—helped get him “zapped into the whole thing.” The three original members tastes were all similar, with influences ranging from Discharge, Celtic Frost, The Stranglers and Killing Joke. He reflected that it was just cool to fuse, thus Prong’s crossover style was born. That crossover style still relates today. “I still think it’s rooted in old new wave, post-punk and hardcore as well,” Victor says. “You may not identify it much, but it’s there.”

Prong disbanded for a period around 1997, but Victor kept busy playing guitar in Danzig’s band. He has brought Prong back with varying lineups since 2002. Victor also joined Ministry to play guitar alongside another guitar great, the late Mike Scaccia of Texas thrash Rigor Mortis fame.“ I brought up this extra experience and how it helped develop Prongs’s sound,” says Victor. “Actually, I had a lot of creative input in Ministry. Whether I was rewarded for it is another issue. I loved Mike as a person—he was one of the nicest guys I have ever played with. He was a killer lead player. Like I said, I’m a bit of an ignoramus when it comes to lead playing, so I really didn’t understand what he was doing.”

Prong released X-No Absolutes last year, and it’s the latest display of adding new elements to the classic Prong sound. Victor’s vocals in the beginning were usually gruff, with a bit of his NYC-accent panache. Over the years, he’s developed his singing voice, despite his saying he hasn’t done anything to develop his voice other than using it for so long. He also gives credit to Steve Evetts, the producer of the Carved into Stone album, as well as to the producer of his last two albums, Chris Collier. Victor says he needs guidance with his vocals and says that learning from doing has shaped his vocal sound. With X-No Absolutes released last year, Prong may not be considered the force they once were—no big Epic Records label deal like Prong had for the Cleansing album. So there is a lot to prove, but it’s all about the fans, and ironically, Victor says that those fans have mentioned that the No Absolutes album was like Cleansing revisited, which he agrees with. “It has a lot of post-punk roots in it as well as some real heavy stuff,” Victor says. “It’s a total Prong record. It has that right amount of everything.When it was done, I thought it was the best Prong record of all time. I’m still very happy with it. I must say that I’ve really tried my best with all the recent records to give the fans what I think they want—and also write songs that I like. All I can do is give it my all.”

With 10 original full-length albums and over 30 years of experience, Prong have not passed their prime. I actually hate but often adversely agree with the notion that most artists fade with age. There are always exceptions and Prong’s last three full-lengths feel more like prime cuts than regurgitated leftovers. Victor talked about how his most proud accomplishment with the band is the completion of 2014’s Ruining Lives—he notes that it was a crazy period in his life and that for it to get written and finished was a miracle. “Essentially, I see it as a message from God that I should still do Prong and be grateful for it,” he says. See Prong and their “great power” on May 7, with Sepultura and Testament at The Depot in Salt Lake City.