There were a lot of doubters when I initially talked about organizing and sponsoring a Death Metal music extravaganza in June of 1992. Most said, “You call this torrent of violence music?” There was definitely a burgeoning Death Metal scene in Ottawa in the early 90’s, and some overheard in-store conversations wondered if it had anything to do with Satan. After I heard the Satanic comment one too many times I told one customer,
“Of course it is Satanic! I’ve already killed 8 people, using nothing but a wooden spoon and a jar of peanut butter, inverted 2 rabbits, maimed a cow, and glued a litter of kittens to the sidewalk.”
After getting the final word that it would be a failure from Ottawa music icon Shawn Scallen, I set out to prove him wrong. The bands and I began having meetings in the basement of the store. For metal heads, these guys were clever, hardworking, and really stood by their local music scene.
While most people associate Death Metal Music with a bunch of guys screaming, and creating random noise, there’s a multitude of reasons why Death Metal is loved by some. There are melodies, patterns, and complexities to be realized and appreciated, if enough time is spent soaking it all in. It takes practice and dedication, which challenges the stereotype of metal heads being lazy and careless. If you think it’s just a bunch of noise, and you call yourself a guitarist, download a tablature of just about any Vital Remains song and try to keep up.
Ever wondered what Cannibal Corpse’s ‘Frantic Disembowelment’ sounds like played on a Ukulele? Well, you most certainly would not have found out that night. The show started at 8 pm at Off Limits in the Byward Market. At 4 pm we found ourselves cleaning up the bar that had not been touched since the day before. At 7 pm the doors opened, and there stood a line up outside the door.
It was an all ages event, with booze served to those over 19. The hands of kids barely 4.5 feet tall were stamped as they carefully paid for their ticket in change. It was going to be a sell out. Shawn came in and shook my hand, and was amazed so many of Satan’s minions would turn up for such an event. Personally, I was worried about the aftermath of the concert. Would these kids need to go torch a church, or drink some goat blood or something?
Death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music, and not for everyone. It typically employs heavily distorted and low tuned guitars, played with techniques such as: palm muting, tremolo picking, and aggressive, powerful drumming– featuring double kick or blast beat techniques. I swear the ‘harmonies’ of these bands kill me every time. It’s an iconic harsh style of singing. Low and grumbly screaming, and the word “Die” is used frequently. Those who claim that the vocalists are talentless however, are utterly moronic in their comments. Obviously, they haven’t tried reaching the guttural lows and shrieking highs that the experienced metal vocalist is capable of.
Sometimes, when riffs got way too fast that night, I was worried that some of the smaller patrons would screw their ‘little horns” up banging their heads around in the mosh pit. But then, there was that occasional “bass face” the minions made when they heard a good drop in a song melody that just put everything into perspective.
Set changes that night sometimes took over 30 minutes between bands, as none of the enormous drum kits had what I call ‘little man syndrome’. Considering how mechanical and over-triggered a lot of extreme metal drumming has become I would also like to point out: while Deathcore uses breakdowns, which is rare in Death Metal, Death Metal talks smack about the high-hat and playing snare as fast as possible.
Death metal to this day is still non-mainstream. It’s musicians have to work incredibly hard for their career sales to reach even a million copies (which very few death metal musicians have actually done). But, I must admit that after hearing all those bands for hours that night I had to smile at a young future music critic:
“You think Satan would be like, “Okay, yes, that is brutal, soul-destroying, Christ-crushing music, but, dude…yougotsta stay in key!”
Without music, of any kind, life would be a mistake. Rock on!
Dedicated to Andrew, Adrian and Blair
Chapter in my 6th book called: Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac – out this summer.
The 1st and only Hangman’s Ball – June 27, 1992.
Sponsored by: Ace Magazine, Flash Cadilac, CKCU, and Record Runner
Gorguts- still rockin’ on
Gorguts is a technical death metal band from Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. The band was formed in 1989; it’s only constant member has been Luc Lemay. One of the best technical death metal bands on the earth!
Zealous Witness –1990 –1996
Based in Clayton ON
Technical Thrash Metal
Macifecation was a death metal band from Ontario, Canada that formed in 1991. Shrine of the Mortalities, their only release, was released in 1992. Singer died in car crash in 1994.
Mutiny of a Small Group of Lemmings
From Ottawa, Ontario
No other information.
Live Shows (VHS Video) – 1990
1990 (as Traumatism), 1990 (as Sarcasm), 1990-?, 2012-present
Originally formed in July ’90 under the moniker Traumatism. Most recently reunited in 2012.
Put out a comp in 2012