Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bands Affected By Suicide

Dissection, Gorguts, Dark Disciple, Emptor, Mayhem: what is the tie that binds? Well, if you read the title, they were all affected by suicide. Some bands were unable to recover. Others carried on to varying degrees of success.

Before we get down to brass tacks: DON'T KILL YOURSELF! If you're bummed, talk to someone about it. You can even tell old DoomUnicorn here. Suicide is a complete drag and it means you can't listen to metal jamz anymore.

As I gathered my research (such as it is) I was surprised by the lack of the sort of tearful memorial melodrama you get with dead musicians (think Dio, Schuldiner, Burton). Sure, you've got some fan videos on youtube, but for the most part, these guys are treated as carnival oddities and kept at an emotional arm's length. Despite metal's cozy relationship with death, it made me wonder if suicide is too real, even for metalheads. And with metal's cartoonization of death subjects, it's impossible to identify actual mental health issues in its artists. We're talking about finding sick needles in sicker haystacks. I wonder how many more great artists we're going to lose to suicide because we're so desensitized. Although I guess I don't know what I would do if I could identify mental health problems through :45 powerviolence songs.

BUMMED YET? Good. FUCK YOU. Let's go.

RIP Per Yngve Ohlin a.k.a. Dead, Vocals (22 years old)

Let's start off with the obvious: Mayhem's original vocalist who famously blew his head off, Varg told him to do it and sent him the slugs, Euronymous snapped the pics, and Mayhem immortalized it Dawn of the Black Hearts.

Pretty grim

I admit it; I was somewhat late to the BM party. I was still bumping Master of Puppets when Deathcrush hit so I didn't even discover Mayhem until like the mid 90s. But it was jacking my friend's brother's Out from the Dark tape from his Mercury Cougar that got me hooked and opened so many doors to extreme music. I don't even know what that guy, more of a Voivod fella, was doing with a copy. Looking back on it, +10 kvlt points for him. More truth: I don't even like most other Mayhem. I've tried repeatedly to get into De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas since everyone tells me it's great but for me it's Out from the Dark or bust. I think it's Attila Csihar; I hate almost everything he's ever touched. Fuck that asshole.

What is this even supposed to be?

Dead's vocals lack range on this tape, which is a recording of his last rehearsal with the band, in that they are just kind of stuck on the psychotic, slightly strangled setting and have an in-your-faceness a lot of BM--especially that of the "atmospheric" persuasion--avoids. It's probably got something to do with the low production quality but I like to think it was intentional. To give you a sense of what we're dealing with, I present the lyrics to Chainsaw Gutsfuck, unequivocally the finest song title in all of metal:

Bleed down to the fucking core
You're going down for fucking more
Screw your slimy guts
Driving me fucking nuts!

Chainsaw in my bleeding hands
As I start to cut you in two
Your guts are steaming out
And I just love the sight!

Maggots crawling in her cunt
I just love to lick that shit
Bury you in a slimy grave
You will rot forever there!

Now you know.

I could say more but there really is no way to articulate how good this album is. Hit the link and get immediately transported to a simpler time, when BM was all Lucifer, spike cuffs, and pissed off 20 year old introverts with unpronouncable names. Not a trace of anarcho-environmentalism in sight.

RIP Erik Brødreskift, Drums (30 years old)

Emptor eked out one demo in its short lifetime. It happens to be an absolute motherfucker of a demo though, with 20 minutes of deranged thrash that crams King Diamond, early Kreator, Destruction, and Sabbath into a surprisingly effective whole. This was '88, so thrash was definitely taking off and Emptor wasn't doing anything unprecedented, but there's something primitive and hungry about them, and the fact that it sounds like it was recorded in an industrial shed, that grabs me. On the surface, there is very little here you you can't find on records with better songs and higher fidelity but it has gobs of soul (try finding that on your Futur Skullz disc) to go along with its paint-by-numbers riffs.

I feel kinda shitty about commemorating Erik Brødreskift with this album because you can barely make out the drums on it. For a guy who is 100% certified official (Gorgoroth and Immortal on the C.V.; Hole in the Sky dedication; etc.), this demo is almost a throwaway. But I love it anyway so it fucking goes in. If you only DL one thing from this post, make it this.

RIP Mat Sargent, vocals (30 years old)

Before their vocalist, Mat Sargent, killed himself in '08, Dark Disciple managed a handful of releases of safe, competent, knuckle-dragging, Jesus-baiting slam. See Devourment, Disgorge, Suffocation, etc. They sound like dudes who would totally be down for beating my ass after school. They do NOT fit the metal suicide stereotype of introspective genius with a penchant for early Cure. On a whole, you get a pretty good idea of the milquetoast death metal that lies within by taking in the cover.

However, there are moments in between the slam clichés (the intro is 30 seconds of someone saying 'Jesus Loves You'...only BACKWARDS!!!) that hint at some real potential; Sargent's schizo BM/DM vocals are especially compelling. Who knows, maybe this is an overlooked classic and Cobras can explain it better for you.

RIP Jon Nödtveidt, guitar and vocals (31 years old)

OK back into the heavy hitters. Helping to usher in melodic black/death (for better or worse), Nödtveidt was responsible for not one but two of death metal's landmark releases (Storm and Somberlain) before he turned 21. While you were busy drinking your Dad's Genny Cream Ale down by the underpass and setting tire fires, this guy was dropping classics. Listening to Dissection's first demo, The Grief Prophecy, Nödtveidt's talents are on full display as he manages to put literally all posers on blast in three short tracks. For all of The Somberlain's cold, melodic, majestic riffery, The Grief Prophecy excels in filthy, down-tuned, raw power that sounds like too-talented kids huffing glue and changing metal. Even when it veers into predictability (see: Consumed), the guitar harmonies and overall atmosphere are flawless. Truth told, I'm not the biggest Dissection fan, but I could listen to this all day. Artwork by Dead!

RIP Steve MacDonald, Drums (31 years old)

Gorguts! Srs, what can be said about Gorguts that hasn't already been said by people more articulate than myself. I feel a little bad about posting ...And Then Comes Lividity only cos he didn't drum on it. He was best known for their last album, 2001's serviceable From Wisdom to Hate, and it was his suicide that prompted their dissolution. However, this is essential listening so there is no viable option but to post it.

Before Gorguts went tech, they played some wretchedly durty, straight ahead OSDM that would stand up against almost anything by Incantation. ...And Then Comes Lividity is a side of Gorguts you don't often see and it provides back story for their bigger releases. You get none of the technical insanity of Obscura, for example, but the riffs are unfuckwithable, vocal delivery is spot-on, and it has that je ne sais quoi of early DM. The production is shit, to put it gently, but the mix is balanced and, even though the bass sounds like a trapped sofa fart, you can locate each instrument cleanly and get a sense of the musical wizardry that Gorguts would later shit out all over the place.

So that's it. Everyone was 30 or 31 years old except Per Ohlin?
What the fuck is up with THAT?


Anonymous said...

that dude from Helloween killed himself just AFTER he'd been kicked out of the band...doesn't count?

The Thing That Should Not Be said...

If I was in Helloween, that alone would be reason for suicide.

DoomUnicorn said...

I couldn't fit all I would need to say about Ingo Schwichtenberg into this post. That's the only reason he didn't make the cut.

Aegipan said...

Shit, I'm 31 years old and a vocalist!! Hmmm...

Anonymous said...

Fuck suicide. Homicide all the way. Life may be a steaming pile of shit but while there's drugs to do, pussy to pipe, and slobs to be murdered I'll stick around.

Judge Shredd said...

You forgot Kirk Cobain you poser!

Maybe its just me but that Dark Disciple if fuckin sick. Gonna be listening to that a lot for a long time. Thanks for posting that

Bryan said...

How about Grim of Borknagar and Immortal fame?

DoomUnicorn said...

^ That's Erik Brødreskift -- same dude.

@ Judge, glad you dug it.

Shelby Cobras said...

Yeah, what about Kirk Romaine, man?
I had pondered doing a Dark Disciple post in the past, perhaps it is time to do so....

Excellent post, brother. Luckily, I turned 32 this year, so none of my extremely-successful, high-profile bands are in danger of losing their most valuable asset. Which is me.

Shelby Cobras said...

Also important/applicable: THIS

DoomUnicorn said...

Yeah, shed some light. I was a little surprised to look them up on here and on Living Doorway and see nothing. Clearly something wrong there. Baltimore has a funny scene it seems. Baltimore: Tampa of the North?