Review of Genesis XIX by Sodom

Band: Sodom
Album: Genesis XIX
Release Date: 27 November 2020
Record Label: eOne
Buy on CD, vinyl or digital: here

Cover of Genesis XIX by Joe Petagno

Cover of Genesis XIX by Joe Petagno

Usually on DCHM we review albums by local bands or those with ties to the area. However COVID has made 2020 a pretty downer year for everyone, including metal album reviewers. When DCHM contributor Vivek’s favorite thrash band, Sodom, was looking for reviewers for the band’s upcoming album I knew he’d be excited at the opportunity to write a review. Several ALL CAPS text messages later he had accepted and the result is this lengthy, in-depth review of Genesis XIX, named after the chapter of the Bible that tells the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. If you don’t feel like you’re a Sodom expert now, you will by the time you finish reading Vivek’s review below.

In many ways, 2020 will go down as one of the worst years of recent memory. From all of the overwhelming news regarding COVID-19 and elections around the world, there has not been much to look forward to. By now, most people know some of the ways this has affected the music industry from cancelled tours to full-on venue closings. It also has forced bands back into writing mode for records that will be released whenever this pandemic is over. However, some bands have made the decision to release music during the pandemic. Many albums released during the pandemic have brought a much-needed boost of happiness and have provided some bright rays of light to shine through the darkness of 2020. The band whose album will bring the most dazzling and vibrant rays of light to metalheads and thrashers all around the world is none other than the all-mighty Sodom.

Genesis XIX is the album’s title and its only motive is to provide intense, varied, and overwhelming thrash metal. This album shows Sodom are still among the best thrash metal bands active today. The main reason for that stems from how Genesis XIX continues to build on the sounds that made Sodom thrash metal legends. This release also marks Sodom recording a full-length album as a four-piece, the first in their almost 40-year career. The new record will satisfy fans who are anxious about how Genesis XIX holds up to the classic Sodom albums.

Sodom was founded in 1982 in the coal-mining town of Gelsenkirchen, Germany by Aggressor, the first guitar player of the band, and frontman and bassist Tom Angelripper, who is the sole constant member. Sodom began their career playing a primitive and sinister form of speed metal that would go on to influence black metal all around the world. In 1987, Frank Blackfire joined the band and helped them evolve into a thrash metal powerhouse. With Blackfire joining Sodom, the band would reach the peaks of thrash metal and solidify their title as thrash metal legends with the seminal releases of Persecution Mania, Expurse of Sodomy, and Agent Orange during a short timeframe from 1987 to 1989. Once Blackfire left Sodom in 1989, the band experimented with traditional heavy metal, speed metal, death metal, hardcore punk, and punk rock for most of the 90s. In the late 90s and into the early 2000s, Sodom flew the flag of thrash metal higher than everyone else by returning to pure thrash metal with the other seminal releases of Code Red and M-16. During the 2000s and into the 2010s, Sodom began incorporating more melodic and modern elements into their sound. Tom Angelripper still fronts Sodom but Genesis XIX is the first album with lead guitarist Frank Blackfire returning to the band. Toni Merkel and Yorck Segatz are the young newcomers who round out the lineup on drums and rhythm guitars, respectively.

Sodom

Genesis XIX clocks in at just under an hour which may raise some eyebrows considering that it is a thrash metal album. However, every riff on the album is important to each song and is a kick to the jaw. There are no filler riffs to be found on Genesis XIX. It contains all of the hallmarks that made the Blackfire-era albums so legendary and groundbreaking. The rapid fire-riffage, quick guitar turn-arounds, heavy breakdowns, and old-school mid-paced chug riffs all make a triumphant return on Genesis XIX. The cherry on the top is Frank Blackfire’s exhilarating guitar solos. Genesis XIX also draws from other eras of Sodom and even takes elements from punk and black metal. The album begins with a one-two punch from “Blind Superstition” and “Sodom and Gomorrah.” “Blind Superstition” is a great instrumental track that accustoms the listener to all of the heaviness present on the album, but it also does not give too many details away. The instrumental track also does a great job of maintaining a groove to catch the listener and builds up tension in the best way possible. It’s an old-school trademark, but Sodom utilizes this in the most effective way possible. Sodom also keeps it unique enough that it does not sound like something rehashed from a previous album. “Sodom and Gomorrah,” provides a kick in the face after “Blind Superstition” locks the listener in. This track is a speedy and whipping start to the rest of Genesis XIX. “Sodom and Gomorrah” has a ton of punk elements present in the track, which makes the song feel like something off of Get What You Deserve and ’Til Death do us Unite era Sodom. The punk attitude shows off a factor of diversity while still maintaining the overall vision of thrash metal. The punk riffs get the intense and high-speed aspect of thrash metal off of the ground while keeping the listener anticipating when Sodom will go full on thrash. This is a brilliant way to build tension and keep the listener engaged so that when Sodom switches back to playing pure thrash metal, the listener will go ballistic. “Sodom and Gomorrah” also has some twists as well. The track features a breakdown that is similar to a wall of sound. In that, Blackfire and Segatz build layers of guitar noises while the other plays the riff, Angelripper harmonizes and travels up the bass guitar fretboard, and Merkel keeps the wall of sound grounded with pulverizing double bass drumming. This breakdown is a refreshing change and it is also unique. It enhances the song through the use of the second guitar to add depth to the band’s older sound. While that is something new it does not feel like something modern or brand new. It is a different approach to the sounds that made Sodom famous.

Sodom & Gomorrah lyric video

After this track, Sodom then showcases why they are thrash metal juggernauts. “Euthanasia” is riff-filled thrashing madness. This is one of the shorter tracks on the album, and that works to its benefit. “Euthanasia” is a straight-ahead thrash metal beatdown. It features nothing but mean and pure thrash metal riffage. Each riff on this track contains all of the traits that made the riffs on Persecution Mania and Agent Orange so ferocious. The song has a mean down picked intro that transforms into a classic sounding Sodom riff festival for the rest of the song. “Euthanasia” is fantastic because the riffs in this track have a similar structure to those found in the Blackfire-era albums but have a modern edge to them. This modern take of the classic era of Sodom makes all of the riffs in the song a refreshing listen. For those anticipating an excellent Frank Blackfire guitar solo, the wait is worth it! The way the solo slams into the listener recalls great memories of Persecution Mania. Blackfire shows no signs of age in his soloing and it has perfect flow as well. This guitar solo does a lot terrific traveling throughout the fretboard. The solo for “Euthanasia” reaffirms Frank Blackfire’s ability for fretboard wizardry. It’s a perfect return to form for Frank Blackfire and will crush any qualms that people might have about his return to Sodom. It’s a wonderful resolve for the first tracks and has a good transition into the title track, “Genesis XIX.”

The track “Genesis XIX” was released on the Out on the Frontline Trench EP in 2019 as a teaser for the album. On that version I was not too impressed. I felt the track needed to be faster and I also thought the track was monotonous at times. I was a little worried about how “Genesis XIX” would come out based on this track. However, the album version of “Genesis XIX” improves on every aspect of the previous version. All the riffs and structures on this version are more menacing and the guitar and bass tones are much sharper and heavier. In that, the main riffs that are on the Genesis XIX version are faster and heavier. In addition to that, there are additional bridge riffs that add so much more savagery to the track. If you want to get into specifics, the Genesis XIX version of the title track is 7 minutes and 10 seconds, while the Out of the Frontline Trench EP version is 6 minutes and 42 seconds. The bridge riffs added make a huge difference and that was for the best. The drums are a lot more pounding and aggressive. I love how the main riffs on this track turned out. They have a magnificent flow to them. They don’t feel clunky on Genesis XIX when compared to the Out of the Frontline Trench EP. The riffs combined with the vocals have a call and response feel to them. Again, it takes the traits that made the late 80’s Sodom records so great and gives them a modern update. The riff works with several power chords scattered throughout plenty of tremolo picking and then a several note turn-around. I have always loved this structure because it can be manipulated for any purpose. The solo is great as well, it hits at the moment where you would least expect it and it’s a fretboard whirlwind. Blackfire keeps the solo chaotic but concise enough that the listener can absorb the solo without confusion. The breakdown in “Genesis XIX” is unique when compared to the rest of the album, it has an anthemic groove to it and has all of the elements of traditional heavy metal. This breakdown is an epic resolve for all of the intensity that preceded it. The breakdown also has a dark melody to it which in many ways keeps the listener hypnotized and prepares them for the speedy thrash metal right after. The flow that Angelripper has while the riff plays is fluid and concise, so when the several note turn-around hits, Tom can get some breathing room before providing more brutal vocals. Tom Angelripper’s vocals on this track are much better than the Out on the Frontline Trench version, he sounds more vicious on this version and has a much harsher bark to his voice. His vocals have the raspy teutonic growl to them, but Angelripper does not mind using some guttural vocals as well. It enhances the track overall and provides more depth to the song. Toni Merkel’s drumming makes him the unsung hero of this album. Throughout the album, Merkel provides the drumming to make the riffs have a stronger attack to them. His drum work pushes the whole band forward and makes every aspect of Sodom much heavier, thrashier, more brutal, and more vicious. Merkel shows the best of his abilities on the title track. His ability to jump into a pulverizing double bass drum section from a simple thrash beat is refreshing and something I have not heard in much recent thrash metal. One highlight of this can be found around the two minute and six second mark where the next riff is all chords. His simple, yet so effective, double bass drums underneath the chords pushes the riff and Angelripper’s vocals to their absolute limit. It will stomp out the listener in the best way possible and still keeps them engaged in the song. “Genesis XIX” is among Sodom’s best title tracks.

Friendly Fire music video

The next song on the album, “Nicht Mehr Mein Land,” shows Sodom diversifying their sound from other genres of metal they helped influence. The outro of “Genesis XIX” fades into “Nicht Mehr Mein Land,” however “Nicht Mehr Mein Land” begins with a blasting intro, it catches the listener off guard in the best situation imaginable. This intro is a wonderful surprise and shows Sodom returning to black metal in a thrash metal context. In a lot of ways, the black metal elements in this track are a continuation of the music presented in In the Sign of Evil and Obsessed by Cruelty eras of Sodom. The black metal elements in “Nicht Mehr Mein Land” show an alternate direction the band could have taken if Blackfire had not joined the band in the 80s. The slight return to black metal on this track does a great job of Sodom recognizing the black metal they influenced and using that knowledge to their advantage. The majority of “Nicht Mehr Mein Land” is all mid-paced crunchy riffs that recall classic old-school heavy metal sounds. They have a similar feel to “Remember the Fallen” and “Napalm in the Morning” off of Agent Orange and M-16, respectively. “Nicht Mehr Mein Land” will also go back to some black metal, which is cool because of the contrast it presents to the classic traditional heavy metal riffage that came before it. The song’s ending is somewhat similar to the intro of the song, it has dark elements of the intro, but it does not go full on black metal like the intro does. It’s a wonderful and harrowing ending for a song that catches the listener off guard. This ending is the perfect resolve for “Nicht Mehr Mein Land” as a whole.

“Glock’n’Roll” continues the thrash metal attack, however some of the riffs on this song have a dark tinge to them. It still contains that thrash metal straightforwardness but also sounds evil and malicious. The verse riffs have that same Persecution Mania and Agent Orange feel to them, but they are contrasted by some melodic verse riffs and bridge riffs. The bridge riff in this song is very old school but it works as a transition to the slower and dark melodic riff in one of the verses. This bridge has Blackfire performing a slight lead over a thrashy rhythm section provided by Yorck Segatz. This is a fantastic example of how the addition of a second guitar player has added more depth to the sound of Sodom. It then transitions to the melodic verse. This riff in the chorus is as gloomy as a fog covering a cemetery. Segatz plays the chords, while Blackfire plays a dark melody underneath the chords, and Merkel keeps a somewhat slow to mid-paced groove underneath the guitars to sustain and drive the verse. This verse riff also gives Angelripper an anthemic element to his voice, the listener can’t help but shout along with Angelripper’s delivery of the lyrics,

“You can’t disguise
You can’t escape
Wherever you will hide”

To all of our surprise, this verse riff is a throwback to the Bernemann era of Sodom, the 22 years preceding Blackfire’s return to the band. I was taken aback in the best way possible. Sodom realized the best parts of the previous era and manipulated it for a classic-sounding context. The solo in “Glock’n’Roll” also has the feel of the Bernemann era. Blackfire plays plenty of melodies over Segatz’s backing riff. This is brilliant songwriting from the band that wanted to include diverse elements on Genesis XIX.

Indoctrination lyric video

The rest of Genesis XIX continues the ideas and aggression that were presented in the first six songs of the album. Some of the tracks have varying degrees of punk, thrash, and black metal to them. Overall though, it is still thrash metal to its core. For example, “Dehumanized” has mean thrash metal written all over it, but it does contain several black metal sections too. This similar structure is also found in the final track, “Friendly Fire.” A criticism of that song would be it is too predictable, but throughout the album Sodom have shown mastery of the art of contrast. Whenever Sodom wants to bring in outside elements and different eras of Sodom into Genesis XIX, they bring those elements to enhance the thrash metal riffage and atmosphere in the album. Sodom knows how to utilize these elements without venturing into full on crossover thrash or black metal. They know when there are too many outside elements as well as when there are enough portions from the previous eras of Sodom. Even realizing that there is some repetitiveness and predictability on Genesis XIX, it does not detract from the album overall. It is something that is minor at worst and at best something to keep consistency within the record. Each riff and the amount of times it is played is important for each song as a whole so removing them to reduce the album’s overall length would have been a mistake. The straight-ahead thrashers are found in “The Harpooner,” “Waldo and Pigpen,” and “Occult Perpetrator.” These tracks are all no-nonsense songs that will get a crowd in a non-stop circle pit within seconds. It’s Sodom showing off that they can still write thrash metal better than bands less than half their age. The punk influences peak on the track “Indoctrination.” I’ll be honest when I say: on this track Sodom almost goes full on crossover thrash and even crust punk. “Indoctrination” sounds like an unreleased song from Get What You Deserve. From the intro bassline alone, that appreciation for 80s hardcore is on full display and for some reason it just works. The verse riff has a crust punk sound to it; however, it has a thrash metal structure and delivery. This is something that few thrash bands will do or even approach, so to hear Sodom play thrash with a crust sound to it is refreshing and reassuring to say the least. The breakdown is crossover-like, with Angelripper having a hardcore bark to his voice. The whole track has Tom Angelripper incorporating crossover/hardcore elements to his voice. This track in particular highlights Angelrippers range, I just love how he can do thrash and black metal vocals, but then sound like he sang in a German hardcore band from 80s. It’s a great change of pace and still keeps the listener engaged deep into the album.

Genesis XIX is Sodom’s answer to the abysmal year that is 2020. For a band that has nothing to prove, Sodom have again shown why they are thrash metal legends. Genesis XIX shows Sodom incorporating outside elements, while realizing and understanding the best parts of their past that lead them to the success that they’ve had. Genesis XIX is by far their best album since M-16 in 2001. The return of Frank Blackfire has given the band a rejuvenated energy that has caused Sodom to exceed their high standard of thrash metal. His riff writing and soloing is just as fresh now as it was more than 30 years ago. Blackfire returned at the best time, and this album is proof of that. Sodom have reinvented themselves for the old school and the new school fans in such a unique way. The addition of Yorck Segatz on second guitar and Toni Merkel on drums has provided so much more depth to the band than what was heard in previous incarnations of Sodom. When the pandemic ends and life returns to some semblance of what it was before, the tour for this album will be legendary. I can see people going nuts the entire time for the Genesis XIX songs, right along with the classic material. Genesis XIX is THE thrash metal album of 2020 and will bring much needed happiness to Sodom fans, thrashers, and metalheads worldwide.

Darkest Hour benefit for the Black Cat

When the COVID-19 pandemic came to town in March it shut down all of the area’s live shows, including metal shows. However at 7pm this Saturday, September 26th, Darkest Hour will be streaming a performance that was just recorded at the Black Cat! The show itself won’t be live because there are many guest performers involved who had to be recorded playing from their own locations since it isn’t safe to fly them in right now. However there will be a live chat during the stream where fans can interact with the band and guest musicians in real time as everyone watches the stream. The audio has also been professionally mixed and mastered so the sound quality will be closer in quality to a live album than a regular livestream. On top of all that, everyone that buys a ticket will get an invite to the virtual afterparty on Zoom with Darkest Hour members and some of special guests after the performance ends!

Tickets to watch the stream (which includes access to the Zoom afterparty) are available from Veeps.com (here) for $10 or at the same link you can buy a bundle that comes with an exclusive shirt (shown below) made just for this performance for $35.

I spoke with Darkest Hour guitarist and founding member Mike Schleibaum and he told me that this event ties in with the band’s 25th anniversary (which was on Wednesday, 9/23). Along with some of the band’s most popular songs, the setlist will include some of their oldest songs performed with guest appearances by former band members. Other performing guests include Doc Coyle (Bad Wolves, God Forbid), Mark Heylmun (Suicide Silence), Buz McGrath (Unearth), Fella Di Cicco (Dreamshade) and more! Mike Schleibaum went on to say, “all of the Darkest Hour parts were shot on the Black Cat stage with multiple cameras.” When pressed about exactly how much of the ticket price went to the venue, Mike said, “100% of ticket sales go to the Black Cat. So when you buy a $10 ticket they get all of the $10. There’s also going to be a donation feature while the performance is streaming so people watching can also donate that way.”

This isn’t a live stream but it sounds like they’ve really upped the production value for this using multiple cameras, top notch sound quality and out of area guest musicians to make this closer to something you’d see on a band’s live DVD release. And while I’ve watch several band live streams they do kind of all seem like you’re just watching a rehearsal with poor sound quality. This event sounds like a great way to do something bigger for the fans, celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary, and donate to one of Washington DC’s live music institutions. If you can’t watch it when it starts or you just want to replay the show, a ticket purchase will grant you access to it for 24 hours. You can check the event’s Facebook page here for info and once again you can get tickets here.

The Veeps stream layout with the chat shown on the right

Here’s some videos Darkest Hour put out that you can get even more info from:

Black Voices – Nick Berry

On Tuesday June 2nd, I, like many others, posted a black square to my Instagram with the #BlackOutTuesday hashtag. Almost immediately I realized that this was not nearly doing enough and that if I truly feel Black Lives Matter then I have to do something more. I figure something I do have is my modest platform here at DC Heavy Metal. With that in mind I started reaching out to some of my black friends to ask them if they’d like to make a guest post on DCHM. The subject matter of each post is entirely up to them, it does not have to be related to metal or even the DMV area. This is the fifth of this series of posts I’m calling Black Voices and I hope you take the time to listen to them. You can find all the posts in this series using the Black Voices tag here.

In this installment of the Black Voices series my friend Nick Berry talks about his experiences booking metal shows at the now defunct So Addictive Lounge in Herndon and how his race played a factor in local media coverage, or the lack thereof, at the time. Nick lives in Colorado these days but he was a staple in the area’s DIY metal scene for some time and I felt he should be included if he wanted to be.

Hey everybody. Cheers from Colorado. Big shout out to Chris. Thank you again for letting me chime in considering I kind of dipped out on the dead of night. For those that don’t know me, my name is Nick Berry. I used to book some shows over at So Addictive a few years ago and many years ago I played in a band called High Five For Suicide. That was a fun enterprise for what it was. I’m going to try to keep things short and succinct but talk about my experiences booking shows over at So Addictive and wonderful people I met.

Actually I gotta say for the most part everyone was really wonderful. There weren’t too many “shit pickles” that I had to deal with. That being said, I stil have my fair share of very interesting, some would say sideways, interactions with people. Just starting out I fell into booking shows really by accident. An ex-girlfriend of mine called me up and she was working at a bar that was just doiong random things on a night to night basis. She was wondering if I might be able to bring in some metal bands for like a night and we could see how that went down but– yeah doing this shit outside is always fun haha– I said fuck it I’m gonna go ahead and do this. I hadn’t really wanted to talk to her but you know, an opportunity is an opportunity so I struck while the iron was hot and I got in there and I talked to the owner, this guy Dewey, and he was incredibly skeptical, mostly because of this [implying his skin color] which was a shame. He was like, “you book metal shows?” and I was like, “yeah man [I] used to do it for a long time. I’m sure I could bring in some people” and he was really skeptical but he took a risk and he said “go for it, I’ll give you a month to see what you can do” so I went ahead and called up some friends, booked a show and it kind of went from there. One show kind of lead to another and after a few months Dewey was like “hey, why don’t you go ahead and do this on a pretty regular basis, like every week” and at this point I was like, “aw man, heh heh.” I think I was going to school at the time. I needed some help in booking, trying to book at that level so I went ahead and called my buddies Steve Kerchner and Helena Goldberg and they went ahead and helped me out through the next year booking shows on a weekly basis and bringing in all sorts of wonderful talent. We saw So Addictive change from just a regular bar and becoming a gay night club, I think the first of its kind in Northern Virginia. That was really rad. It was so rad actually that we got interviewed by the Washington Post and that was an interesting experience in itself. They came in with a camera crew and everything and filmed the nightclub and filmed some bands playing and went ahead and interviewed me and I’m sure because I’m not the greatest speaker in the world I had a billion and one gaffs and I probably came off as like the worst scum bag on the planet but I’ll never know because my interview was never actually put into any of what the Washington Post did so you never heard about a black guy named Nick Berry who may have been booking metal shows but you did hear about So Addictive having metal shows on Monday nights because they filmed something else and decided to put that out there. You can say what it is or whatever, I don’t know, but I’m pretty frickin’ sure it was racism but eh, you know gotta throw that out there in the ether and whatever bygones. You move on but I do remember it pissing me off a lot because hey you know, you want to be recognized for the things you do and you should lay things out there as they are and not cover things up that’s kind of hokum, ya know? But that was very much an interesting thing.

Other little ramblings that have happened to me like, I’ve been bugged on the Metro about t-shirts and stuff that I’ve worn, and mostly because I understand the climate of today with metal being fashion but generally people don’t wear, as fashion items, clothing from bands you can’t exactly buy from Hot Topic so it’s always interesting when people come up to you and ask you about your more underground hoodies and whatnot. I guess you could talk about gatekeeping and everything else and how this is problematic and how people of color tend to have to deal with more gatekeepers than others. They’re not given just the benefit of the doubt and that’s sad. Thankfully that doesn’t happen that much in DC, home to Bad Brains, but you still see it. Definitely see it out in the burbs with the more elitist types. Generally I want to say probably elitism is used to be discriminatory in our scene and it’s something that we should go ahead and confront and say something about. You see something, say something. It’s not good to keep your mouth shut. None of us are perfect people. We should always be striving to be better. This is one of those moments that we could really go ahead and reflect on where we’ve been and where we can go and how we can improve on our lives, how we treat everyone, and not just in the metal scene but in a day to day level. Music is for everybody. There’s not much else to say there about that. Music is for everybody. We should all be out there sharing it and enjoying it together and if you have a problem with that fuck you, because that’s what should be said and honestly I hope everyone has had an awesome day today and it’s easy out there. That’s my two cents.

Black Voices – Kevin Rucker

On Tuesday June 2nd, I, like many others, posted a black square to my Instagram with the #BlackOutTuesday hashtag. Almost immediately I realized that this was not nearly doing enough and that if I truly feel Black Lives Matter then I have to do something more. I figure something I do have is my modest platform here at DC Heavy Metal. With that in mind I started reaching out to some of my black friends to ask them if they’d like to make a guest post on DCHM. I told them they can write something, make a video or audio recording, share links, literature, whatever. The subject matter of each post is entirely up to them, it does not have to be related to metal or even the DMV area. This is the fourth of this series of posts I’m calling Black Voices and I hope you take the time to listen to them. You can find all the posts in this series using the Black Voices tag here.

For this post Kevin Rucker, who goes by EndlessCemetery on Twitch, took the time to talk about some of his experiences as a musician and metal fan in the Baltimore metal scene. I’ve followed him for a while on Twitch because he regularly has interesting discussions and takes on racism and other social issues on his streams, sometimes while he’s playing video games, sometimes not. When the recent protests began after George Floyd’s murder he has even streamed live from the streets of Baltimore. Fascinating stuff and I highly recommend you give him a follow on Twitch. The beginning of this video is clipped a little but that doesn’t change the overall message. And be sure to read the transcription below if you prefer that.

…/endlesscemetery Here I play video games obviously but I also have lots of discussions about income inequality, police brutality, white supremacy, socialism, all that good stuff. All the stuff we know and love. But I wanted to make this video for Chris from DC Heavy Metal for his Black Voices platform. Shout out to Chris for providing a platform like that for people like me to really speak out and get some of our experiences and some of the things that we’ve seen and done out there. For anyone who wonders why I am even relevant to this conversation, my name is Kevin obviously like I said, but I’ve been playing metal, or rather I was a metal musician in the Baltimore area for the better part of the last 15 years. I’ve been a fan of metal for probably the last 20 years. My first ever show was out in Baltimore County at a venue that no longer exists that used to be called the Recher Theatre. I went to see Soulfly, Throwdown, Blood Simple and Incite I believe. It was like Max Cavalera’s son’s band. I was straight edge at the time so I was really excited to see Throwdown but of course Soulfly were really cool. This was before there were any rumblings of Cavalera Conspiracy or anything like that, back in 2005 I believe. The very few Sepultura covers that they did were very, very exciting. Very, very cool to me. My first show [performing in a band] in Baltimore was a pay-to-play show at the Recher unfortunately but the first show that I would say had any actual meaning to me would have been, I played at Sidebar in 2007 with my first band Reanimator. We played with Infernal Stronghold, Revocation and Swashbuckle. Two of those bands are now like blown up and stuff. It’s interesting. Infernal Stronghold [is] still one of my favorite bands of all time of course. Shout out to them. Like I said that was in 2007 and I’ve just kind of been rockin’ in the scene since, whether I’ve been going to shows or playing shows. Obviously I’m a big fan of [Maryland] Deathfest. Deathfest was the second show I’ve ever been to, back in 2006. I’ll get to them in a moment.

But my experience in the metal scene had always, up until pretty recently I’ve felt to be very inclusive but I’d realized that it was because of the niche of the scene that I was subsisting in. Here in Baltimore there was a lot of overlap with the grind and punk and metal scene and stuff. Plus just by virtue of Baltimore being a small city it has a pretty tight knit community. So the only times I ever felt any weird energy would be like out of towners and stuff. But I actually stopped playing metal briefly in 2016 due to some fuckery, for lack of a better word, pardon my language, that I encountered while in one of my previous bands, a band called Bestial Evil. I won’t get super, super deep into that here and now. If you’d like, cause I have talked about it so much, especially here on this stream, on this platform. If you’d like some of the details on that you can Google, there’s an Idavox article [here] that was done about the Wolves of Vinland and the band was called Bestial Evil. If you Google Bestial Evil Wolves Of Vinland I’m sure you’ll find the article. But my exposure to that and just the general attitude, the cavalier attitude towards white supremacy in the metal scene really turned me off, left a really bad taste in my mouth and caused me to really step back from everything. I started playing electronic music which is, I’m noticing, kind of the story for everyone who moves away from metal, at least as their main subgenre. Being that I’ve been a video gamer for even longer than I’ve been a metal head or anything related to metal it was just kind of a natural transition and I really enjoy that scene as well. It’s a much more inclusive scene. A lot of the elitism that you would experience in metal where it’s like, if you haven’t heard of a specific band or you don’t own a specific band’s merch or whatever, then you’re not a true metal head right? You’re a poser. Whereas, at least in my experience, in the electronic music scene if you’ve never heard of an artist that’s an exciting moment because that’s a moment where a person gets to put you on, show you some music, give you some experiences that you’ve never had before.

On that note, I guess the main thing I really want to talk about and get out there is obviously for people to be more aware and more critical of the white supremacy being in the metal scene and that kind of just being allowed to float out there in the ether. Cause for a very long time the sentiment was that if you just ignore it it will go away, which is not the case at all. If you give these people an inch they take a mile. I don’t want to name drop anyone in specific, but I remember seeing like a Metal Sucks article or something from a very prominent metal artist that was just talking about how if you don’t like NSBM then you just shouldn’t buy it but it’s like not a big deal, right? And now that same artist, now that the Black Lives Matter movement is fashionable and we’re having all these global conversations about anti-blackness, that same artist is now doing a Metal Versus Racism thing, what have you. But when we’re talking about Deathfest it needs to be known that Maryland, the state, has the highest rate of black male youth incarceration of the entire country. And Baltimore specifically has very, very serious issues with police accountability and the way the police interact with citizens here. So it is especially disturbing to me, the cavalier attitude, that booking has done with, in regards to Maryland Deathfest and some of the bands that they allow to play or promote. A prime example being, if we’re talking about more or less ancient history at this point, Deströyer 666 headlining, and if not headlining having like a major stage or what have you. But more recently, as in the last year, I was working security at the pre-fest party for the band Dumal that played which is, I’ve referred to them as an NSBM band in the past. I should maybe discern that a little bit more in saying that while nothing about their lyrical content or their style of music specifically has any political or national socialist leanings per se, the imagery that they used in at least one of their tapes as well as the label that they choose to release that music on, or at least chose to release that music on, was very, very definitely, unquestionably at the very least sympathetic toward some of the ideals of white supremacy when it comes to historical context. So like bands like antebellum bands, actual NSBM bands, what have you. So that left a really bad taste in my mouth because it was also coming at a time right when I was starting to want to kind of get back into metal. The last band I played in is a band called Embalming Process which is like a goregrind band that I kind of burnt out on but I was coming around and getting excited to write music for it again, partially because I thought that my personal whistle blowing, as far as bands being involved in white supremacy, being prominent bands and their shitty politics or behavior being overlooked, I thought that that was starting to change a bit in the scene, and that was kind of a disappointing moment for me, personally.

The only thing I can really say moving forward is that the anti-racist sentiment is absolutely not something that can just be a flavor of the month, spur of the moment type of thing. It’s a attitude that must be a constant if we’re going to have a scene that is actually inclusive. And that just doesn’t mean, that also is not just for anti-racism, that’s also anti-misogyny, anti-homophobia. Obviously we have issues with those things. Anti-transphobia, all of these social ills, if you will. All of that needs to be confronted and called out and pointed out and addressed head on. It can’t just be a thing where, because we’re afraid to make waves as a fan or even as an artist we’re afraid to lose money because our fans might look at us differently if we take actually a stance on something for once in our lives. That needs to stop and it makes me wonder what the point is, who you would even be appealing to in the first place if you were that worried about losing fans or losing money or what have you, taking stances that shouldn’t even be considered political; black people are people, black people should not be killed, trans people are people, trans women are women, all these very, very basic things that I feel like everyone will say that they feel a certain way about but when they’re put on the spot, when the spotlight is on them, they want to keep quiet to try to appease and appeal to the widest possible audience.

That’s all I have to say. Fuck racism obviously. Fuck white supremacy. Please continue to do the work that is fighting for a more inclusive metal scene because there is different types of people who engage in nerd culture and they should all feel welcome. They should all feel like they have a place because we all have something to contribute at the end of the day. I’m sure everyone is a fan of at least something that was not created by [a] cishet white male. On that note I’m going to end it off. Thank you again for Chris for… for Chris for platforming me and giving me a chance to say all these things. It’s ironic that people are trying to say the n-word in chat while I’m trying to do this but alright I guess now I’m gonna move on to playing some games or something. But lilnutman420 I hope you feel good about yourself.

I’ll end the stream on that note.

Black Voices – Rich Wilson

On Tuesday June 2nd, I, like many others, posted a black square to my Instagram with the #BlackOutTuesday hashtag. Almost immediately I realized that this was not nearly doing enough and that if I truly feel Black Lives Matter then I have to do something more. I figure something I do have is my modest platform here at DC Heavy Metal. With that in mind I started reaching out to some of my black friends to ask them if they’d like to make a guest post on DCHM. I told them they can write something, make a video or audio recording, share links, literature, whatever. The subject matter of each post is entirely up to them, it does not have to be related to metal or even the DMV area. This is the third of this series of posts I’m calling Black Voices and I hope you take the time to listen to them. You can find all the posts in this series using the Black Voices tag here.

For this post I reached out to Rich Wilson, the vocalist of local metal band One Slack Mind. He decided to share this very personal post about how police violence has affected his family. I think it is important to be reminded that the people affected by police violence aren’t just in distant cities but also live here in our community, going to metal shows with us and even taking the stage too. Please note that you can also read the full transcription below the video.

First of all, Chris, I would like to say thank you for doing this. It was a great idea and… respect.

I was planning on doing probably three or four stories but I decided to narrow it down to one. I feel like a lot of black families have a story or an event or some sort of huge event that’s happened in the family history that informs how they feel and perceive race, the police, race relations, etcetera, so here’s mine.

When I was about four years old I remember that my parents, we were living in Brooklyn, and my parents said to me, “we’re going to be moving to your grandparents’ house,” my dad’s parents, [my] grandmother and grandfather, “to help out your grandmother” but I never knew what they meant. I didn’t ask. I didn’t think to ask and I just knew that she needed help somehow so we were moving there. So we moved in there and I remember that being enjoyable. She gave me piano lessons and I remember I used to get up early in the morning and see my grandfather off to work and all that. So I found out, maybe six years ago, five years ago, that the reason she needed help is because my dad’s older brother, my dad’s the youngest, he had a brother, Linwood, who was three years older, and he has an older brother than that, Clarence. I found out the reason that she needed help was because she was distraught, she was inconsolable regarding her middle son, Linwood, being killed by the police. And in July of 1972, ’73, something in there, and so I knew that my uncle had been killed by the police and that there was some sort of a, something foul went down and it wasn’t justified but I didn’t really know, I still don’t know that much about it but, I had my kids interview my mom and that, a lot of details came out then and I found out that he was shot in the temple at point blank range and that he had powder burns on his face and this only happened maybe a block or two away from my grandmother’s house. So she had to go out of her way to avoid, it was July, and his blood was all over the sidewalk. My dad told me that it went to a grand jury but nothing ever came of it regarding… I mean as you can imagine that happens a lot. Nowadays I can’t imagine how often it, you know nothing ever came of a improper shooting in the early 70’s.

A memory that I had while thinking about all of this for this video, a memory I hadn’t had in 30 years, was that, I used to wake up I think when I was living there or I could come there during the summers also and I would hear my grandmother talking loudly to somebody and I would think, “oh I wonder who is here” or what have you, and I’m creeping down the steps trying to find, figure out who she’s talking to and she was praying. But it was a, almost like a Old Testament, God why have you forsaken me and taken my son, type of like wailing type of situation and this is something that I would, this happened many times when I was younger and I totally did not remember this until I started thinking about the whole incident. I talked to my dad about it today and he told me that, I guess as he’s going through different things, he found my uncle’s resume that he was preparing. He had graduated college and he was home and he was either going to get a job, he’d also been accepted into graduate school as well. So that was all going on and then he was snuffed out.

Anyway they say [to] say their names. His name was Linwood Wilson.

Linwood Wilson

Black Voices – Crushing Boo

On Tuesday June 2nd, I, like many others, posted a black square to my Instagram with the #BlackOutTuesday hashtag. Almost immediately I realized that this was not nearly doing enough and that if I truly feel Black Lives Matter then I have to do something more. I figure something I do have is my modest platform here at DC Heavy Metal. With that in mind I started reaching out to some of my black friends to ask them if they’d like to make a guest post on DCHM. I told them they can write something, make a video or audio recording, share links, literature, whatever. The subject matter of each post is entirely up to them, it does not have to be related to metal or even the DMV area. This is the second of this series of posts I’m calling Black Voices and I hope you take the time to listen to them. You can find all the posts in this series using the Black Voices tag here.

This post is another video, this time by my friend Crushing Boo. I think just about everyone involved in DC’s DIY scene knows who Boo is but even if you don’t I hope you can appreciate what he has to say about his experiences with heavy metal and police profiling in this post. You can read the full transcription below the video itself as well.

Hey Chris. Thank you for giving me a chance to tell my story.

I remember the first time I heard Napalm Death and thinking, “wow it’s really cool that a band can be brutal and talk about intelligent things that affect all of us.” I loved, you know I love metal I loved, you know, the evil shit but it was really cool to see a band that was socially and politically oriented with their songwriting and their lyrics.

I also remember the first time I heard Suffocation and I opened up the CD book for Effigy of the Forgotten and saw the band photo and was blown away by Terrance Hobbs and Mike Smith. You know, seeing these two black men just obliterating, shredding the shit out of the world musically and putting on an amazing show live. And one of the things that I also loved about the metal scene is, when I was a kid you, well when I was a teenager, it was possible, at least in the DC area for some of these bands when they came to town, to be able to hang out with them. So it was great to be able to actually meet like Barney [Greenway, vocalist of Napalm Death] and it was cool to like be in the same room and drink beers with the dudes from Suffocation. That was not without its downsides. I definitely remember the N word being dropped by the singer from Deceased and basically setting Mike from Suffocation off and almost ruining a really good time. And it’s really sad that in a scene where everyone hates authority [and] wants to buck the system that you can’t get past dumb shit like that.

So that being said, I want to tell a story about the first time I was ever profiled. Now [I’m] 19, a big ol metal head, baby dreads, black t-shirt, black jeans, black combat boots and waiting at the bus for, I’m waiting at the bus stop about to go to work and a police officer pulled up and turned on lights, got out of his car, proceeded to question me. He asked me where I was, where I was coming from, excuse me. What I was doing, which is weird because I was waiting for the bus. Where I was going, I was on my way to work. And how long I had been there. And I, you know, told him everything that, I told the truth. I lived around the corner. I’m waiting for the bus. I’m going to work. And he proceeded to ask, well I asked him why I was being stopped and he proceeded to tell me that I fit the description of a person that was breaking into houses in the neighborhood. This is in Silver Spring, Maryland, not too far from the DC line. And when I asked what he looked like the officer told me that the person, the suspect was a young, black male with braids in his hair, white t-shirt, blue jeans and sneakers. Again I’m, baby dreads, black t-shirt, black pants, combat boots. Explained to him this is what I’m wearing, this is where I’ve been and his response is “well, you could have changed your clothes.” So while this is happening my bus pulls up, slows down, stops for a second, and then keeps on going. A couple minutes after the bus leaves the officer gets a call on the radio and lets me go on about my business. My boss, I was late for work but my boss was cool. It was great to be able to not be taken into custody for false identification or being falsely identified. But the one thing that sticks with me from that day so long ago is the looks on the faces of the people on the bus when it stopped. And they all, most of them looked at me as if, just by, because I was being stopped by the cops like I had done something wrong. It really, it shook me. I can still see some of their faces. People shaking their heads and poo-pooing when I [was] just a young, 19 year old, black man trying to take the bus to work. So it was really disheartening and yeah, that’s my story.

Racism is bullshit. Black lives matter. Black voices matter. And we should do the most metal thing that we can possibly do and that’s smash racism in its fucking face. Thank you for giving me this space, Chris. I love you brother.