By: Mike Abominator
2011 has died. And the end is near. December 12th 2012 will see the end of the world as we know it. So that gives me a few months to plague all of you with my rants and insults until we all meet our doom. Let me give you an update of what has been going on with me and my band of lunatics Gravehill. Matt and Bob have been pretty busy with Exhumed. Towards the end of 2011, they had another European run and then yet another U.S. Tour. Due to other personal commitments with work and other shit that comes in all of our lives, they have not been able to really be around to slay with Gravehill. Jason, Grimm and I had to move on with the November West Coast Tour dates with Impiety. So we asked our friends in Witchaven Henry and Erik to help us out with those shows. They agreed. There were 5 of them in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. They had literally 2 1/2 weeks to get a set of songs down and get ready for this trip. They nailed it and we were ready to go. The long road to hell called “the 5 fwy death march” started on an early Thursday afternoon. It finally ended on a late Friday morning. Seattle was fucking dismal with cold as fuck weather of rain and sleet everywhere. This was PERFECT for our arrival! hahaha. We decided to get some rest before the show, so we crashed for a bit before it was time to head to the venue.
Now the club in Seattle, Studio Seven, is located down in the industrial district of the city. It wasn’t opened when we got there. So we just hung out and waited for the club staff to arrive. We had our trusty roadie Bigg Robb with us on this trip. So he used his connections to try and figure out where the club staff was as we had now been waiting for an hour. Anyone that knows or has worked with Robb knows that he doesn’t fuck around. He wants shit done in a timely and professional manner. So he wasn’t happy and at one point Shyaithan from Impiety called Robb and then I got involved and we were able to get the club staff there and started load in a little late. No biggie as it was a Friday night and the show wasn’t to start for a bit. Burger King awaited. Now this place is fucking disgusting as fuck. I don’t like to eat there as my #1 option. But when one is on tour, one must save money and eat cheap at times, so places like Burger King are KEY! After that colon cleansing meal, Bigg Robb and I went upstairs to check the bar as Grimm finished setting up our merchandise booth. This place was a little weird with their rule of not being able to bring drinks downstairs. So the adults could go up to the 2nd floor and drink, but not bring them down to watch the bands. Fucking stupid as fuck in my opinion. This allows the people to just stand up on this balcony and watch from up there. Less headbangers up front and less people in general down on the floor getting crazy. But you know what, if the band is good enough, they can MAKE people come down and get crazy with them. Let’s see what happens. So after some sets by some local bands, it was our turn. The sound up on the stage was killer. And even before we went on, there was a row of headbangers and quite a few people out on the floor to kill with us. There was still quite a few people up on the balcony, but it was killer to have an army of maniacs with us down on the floor. In moments that happen to all of us up on stage, Grimm had a brain fart and forgot the change/transition of our set opener going from fast to mid paced. Erik also broke a string shortly after that and then had to borrow another band’s guitar when he realized that he forgot his strings. I think we had to cut 2 songs from the set because of this. But the olden death metal must go on! I just told a couple of funny stories and Henry helped me fuck with the crowd, especially those upstairs at the bar. After that, the set went OK. Not our best, but keep in mind it was our first show with these guys and shit also happens. After a killer Impiety set, and a hilarious set by Sleepytime Gorilla Museum(who happened to be in town and needed a show to play) it was off to get ready for tomorrow’s PDX show.
Portland has become one of our 2nd homes away from home. We have a lot of killer friends up there and we always have a lot of crazy maniacs that come up to the shows we play. We decided to head out of Seattle early and get down to Portland to hang out in the city and get situated at the killer Plan B venue. We got down to the PDX in the late afternoon and it was time to hit 2nd Avenue Records. It’s a killer record store in the city that has plenty of vinyl and shirts to add to the collection. Now it was also cold and rainy in Portland, so Saturday Market was a wash. This is where we decided to go grab food. But there were still quite a few food trucks open that had food choices from all over the world. We grubbed and then hit one of our favorite bars the Ash Street Saloon. On the way there we laughed at the stupid hipsters standing in the hour and a half long line at Voodoo Donuts and hung out at Ash Street. This place was the very first place that we played in PDX way back in 2007. So we have some great memories there. We then realized that we needed to get Erik some strings and Henry also decided to grab some new ones, so we went over to the Guitar Center outside of the city in Beaverton, after failing to find anything down by the 2nd Avenue area. Back to in the city, in the Plan B neck of the woods, we got ready at the venue and got everything situated for our assault. Plan B rules. Good people working there, cheap drinks, good food, crazy metal heads showing up. Can’t ask for much more. After catching up with some good pals and some pulverizing sets by our friends in Cemetery Lust and Weregoat, it was our time to bring the pain, blood and piss. Let’s just say that this show was MUCH better for us than Seattle. The crowd was fucking RELENTLESS and they went crazy as fuck! Pits, stage diving, singing along, massive head banging, tons of horns and fists. We even raped a Judas Priest song and they didn’t care. The PA went out 2 times and they didn’t care. It was an all out great time and it was one of my favorite all time shows! HAIL PDX! After catching up with friends and saying our goodbyes, we went out to take our long road through the mountains and get down for our Sunday San Francisco show the next night.
FUCK the Oregon pass in November! hahaha. Especially without snow chains. After driving all night, we were close to the California border. But we had to get through that pass. There were all kinds of warnings about snow fall and the need for snow chains on tires. We didn’t have them. So we stopped at a local Fred Myer super store (think of a high class Walmart). We talked a little and realized after talking with a worker at the Fred Meyer car repair area that we couldn’t afford the cost of 2 sets of snow chains ( we had 2 small size vans). After much deliberation and some bathroom breaks, it was decided that we say “FUCK IT” and we would tough out the mountain WITHOUT the snow chains. It was a HUGE risk and I was fucking pissed since I had been driving all night and no one could take over for me. But I said “FUCK IT!” along with everyone else. We would get as far as we could and if the cops stopped us and we had to wait, then we had to wait. Up the mountain at 30 miles and hour, down the mountain at 20 miles and hour. It was a surreal scene. Beautiful yet terrifying at the same time. EVERYTHING was covered in snow. A TOTAL WHITE OUT! It looked like a fucking Christmas card. After an hour or so of driving through this shit, we got further down the mountain and Bigg Robb wanted to find a rabbit to wipe his ass with after he took a dump. This is what he had said after our ordeal! hahahaha. We hit Cali and then it was cheap Carls Jr time for breakfast. The locals starred at us as usual and asked some questions if we were bikers or rockers. They were nice though. It was smooth sailing on our way to the bay and we hit The Mission District. This area of San Francisco is know for 2 things: transsexual hookers and KILLER burritos. Since we are all straight, we avoided chicks with adams apples and a surprise downstairs. The venue was next door to some sort of Cuban restaurant and that place was packed with people eating and joining in some sort of drum circle. Since we aren’t hippies, we just looked at them in disgust. Some dude that worked at the joint was trying to get us to grab food there, but we decided to walk down the street and grab burritos elsewhere. We got lucky and got our torpedoes of Mexican goodness before a massive dinner rush came in. Then off to the venue. Parking in San Francisco is a fucking nightmare. Especially in The Mission. And to top it all off, the promoters of the show were late. But it’s OK, once they showed up, Bigg Robb gave them some shit! It is fucking hilarious watching and listening to Robb get in someone’s ass who he thinks are lagging or being disrespectful. But these people who were doing the show were all killer. They even had a full home cooked food spread for us and Impiety. I tried to get a little rest backstage before our set, but here were too many friends to catch up with. The stage at this venue had a “cat walk” that lead out into the crowd. I had to take advantage of this and sing a little “I’m Too Sexy”! hahaha. There was a real severed pig’s head and some sort of candle and altar set up up in the very front of the cat walk/stage. I had to fuck with that thing as well. The local satanic hispanics started cussing at us in Spanish (it’s OK, this means they LIKE you! hahaha) So I let them have it with my retarded Spanglish which they started laughing at. Don’t underestimate any ol’ white boy. I can cuss in Spanish! All in all a great time as usual in San Francisco. We have a lot of killer friends up there as well. So a good show and turn out and another killer set by Impiety made for a great night! After hanging out a bit and saying our goodbyes to our Impiety brothers (we would meet up the following week in L.A. for the next 2 shows) we made the trek back home to Southern California. This ride would be a little easier, although we were all tired and burned out. We got home around 11am Monday and it was back to the work grind until the next 2 shows the upcoming weekend.
After the hell of real life shit like work for a week, we were back at Friday to play our local hometown show with Impiety. This would be at the infamous Black Castle. I had to work late that night, so once I got off work, it was a rush to get out to the show. Since we weren’t going on until later, it was OK though. I missed a couple of the local band’s sets as I rushed in to get ready for our set. We have been kind of the house band there all these years it has been open. It has been good and bad for us there though. But we have finally started to develop a strong following here in our area, so the shows haven been better there as of late. The maniacs came out in full force for this show! We had a killer set and a great response and I think that it was the best set we had ever played at the old Black Asshole (our nickname for it… Trust me, we love it, but it is fitting!) This show was much like Portland. I even had a fan jump up on stage and start headbanging with me. More catching up with friends and hanging out a bit as Impiety layed total waste to the crowd. Once the rain started coming down hard again, it was time to get the fuck out of south L.A. Of course the complete idiots that drive around this area were out in full force on the fwy on the way home. But then it was time to rest up for the trip down south to San Diego later in the day. Well, NOT San Diego proper, but a suburb called Escondido, right outside of San Diego. This placed we were playing was called The Metaphor Cafe. It is a DIY spot run by the local Pyrate Punx chapter. It is a cool little cafe, not an ideal place to throw shows, but ya know, a place to have shows is just that, a place to have shows! Locals Tombstoners cancelled and there was a cool set by a band that I can’t remember their name. Another local band Ruminations sounded OK, but they decided to play for a VERY long time and we felt that was a little disrespectful. They were told “one more” and they crammed 3 songs into one. This meant that the mighty Witchaven AND our Gravehill sets had to be cut short. ARGHHHHHH, thanks Ruminations. I was going to review your demo tape at some point ;> Witchaven SLAUGHTERED as usual. My boys Henry and Erik were back in their original element and they fucking KILLED! One of the best bands around and THE BEST thrash band in L.A. PERIOD! END OF SONG! We had a fun set. Some drunk girl started headbanging with me, then she started pushing me and other people. Or she TRIED to push me. She wasn’t annoying enough to really deal with. Sometimes people like that need to be layed flat on their back with a swift tackle. But I don’t believe in roughing up a lady. Plus I was in the crowd since the stage was small, so I liked getting into the action at times. This was a small crowd, but we also have some killer friends down in SD and we even had a great set of friends that came from both the L.A. and Orange County areas to come support us. HAILS! We said our good byes to our Impiety brothers and took pictures/exchanged contact info. It was sad to see them boys go as we made good pals with them, but end of tour is always a double edged sword. You are happy to be home, but you miss those road brothers/sisters you get close with! If you can make friends on the road, they are your friends for life! The road brings out the best AND the worst in people.
OK, if you survived my boring story of the Gravehill/Impiety shows, you now get a report about the GATHERING OF THE BESTIAL LEGIONS Festival that took place here Saturday January 14th. The fest had originally been scheduled for August of last year, but a few events lead to it getting postponed. Whatever the case was, fests these days in America have been plagued by mishaps. Either poorly run and organized, or stricken with bad luck, shit has hit the fan recently with fests like The Goregrowlers Ball and The Rites of Darkness. But as promised, The Gathering went on as planned. 3 bands had dropped off: Ares Kingdom, Infinitum Obscure and Grave Ritual. And Goreaphobia didn’t make the re-schedule date. But even big fests in Europe and the best fest in the U.S., Maryland Death Fest, has problems and cancellations at times. Plus the main 4 horseman that everyone wanted to see: Divine Eve, Acheron, Incantation and AUTOPSY were on there! So it was still a killer fest. I was born and raised in the area where the fest was being held: ECHO PARK. FUCK! How my home town city has changed! What happened to all the dope fiends and cholos? They have been replaced by fancy boutiques and hipsters! WHAT IN THE FUCK?!??! I had heard about this, but NEVER in my wildest imagination would I ever think the city would change that much. I guess it is better overall for the city. But I’m not a big fan of hipsters, so it’s fucking weird! hahahaha. Anyways, trying to park in this city is horrible. It is an old school L.A. type area, so it was built back in the 1800′s. Which means it wasn’t built to have this many people all packed in there and driving this many cars around. I had missed the first sets by some local friends that were playing the 2nd stage upstairs. But my Texas brothers in HOD were up on stage jamming as I walked in. They sounded great. But the faster bands didn’t fair nearly as well as the more mid paced ones on this night. When the fast parts came out in the sound mix, it was kind of muddy. But HOD raged with a fill in drummer and a new guitarist. It was great also hanging with them. In between sets of the bands it was all about trying to catch up with friends as I have been so busy working at the pharmacy. I didn’t get a chance to see my locals pals in Infernal Damnation, Ritual Combat, Sanguis Imperum or Winterthrall as I was catching the Texas sets of HOD and the mighty Divine Eve. To those locals, I’M SORRY! But I can’t miss my out of towners when they are here! Ahhh, Divine Eve. HOLY FUCK. Now the sound was a little thin on their first song, but the sound guy had it dialed in by the 2nd one. The Texans KILLED and played a slew of classics from the past that I had loved for so long. I think Divine Eve is one of the best death metal bands EVER! Ask anyone who saw this mighty set and they will say the same thing! The way the sound was going, their mid paced Frosty churns of death were PERFECT for the mix. Next up was Acheron. Another favorite of mine. I have seen them a few times now and as always they killed with their satanic death metal attack. Incantation was then set to show the clones how it is done. They were also killer, but since they are so low and dirty with their sound, the mix wasn’t as nice to them. It was pure mud, and a little lacking in power. But it is always awesome hearing those classic Incantation hymnals of death metal terror. Not one of their best performances sound wise, but still good. Now fucking AUTOPSY was up and they didn’t disappoint. Classic after fucking classic. “Severed Survival”, “Ridden With Disease”, “Gasping For Air”, “In the Grip if Winter”, “Critical Madness” and many, many more! The new songs fit perfectly within the set and the old guys were having a blast up there and raged with all of us! WHAT A CLASSIC SET! It was also killer catching up with old friends Chris Reifert of Autopsy and Xan Hammack of Divine Eve. As well as seeing my boys in HOD and the other local maniacs that I got a chance to hang with. My pal Bjorn from Mordbrand was in town, on vacation with his girl Isabelle. So he got lucky enough to see the mighty Autopsy and is also now a Divine Eve fan! hahahaha. Bjorn, Chris and I had to get a picture taken in our total state of death metal madness. When Bjorn asked Chris to take the picture, Chris said “OK!!!!! I’LL DO IT!!!!!!!!!!! YEEEEELLLLLLLPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Thanks to Juan at the Iron Room for the hook up and for the fest. Also thanks to Jimmy Cabbs and Andy Ford for helping with the fest (glad ya liked the stickers!) I want to also say that there are NO better dudes in metal than Henry and Erik of Witchaven! NO BETTER! These guys saved our fat asses like you wouldn’t believe. They came in and learned our hardcore, technical, at times proggy, death metal, and NAILED IT! OK, it’s not THAT hard to play our shit, BUT STILL! They were a blast to hang out with on the road! I fucking love these dudes! You should all support the mighty Witchaven at ALL COSTS! They rule AND they deserve it! Keep an eye and ear out for DIRTY MIKE AND THE BOYS later on in 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! More news about our guitar player situation later in the month. SAME DEATH METAL CHANNEL! SAME DEATH METAL STATION!!!!!!