Tuesday, July 19, 2011

To (Give a Dude a) Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth

that's right: seven bucks
and signed by one Lars Göran Petrov
My obsession with Entombed is the story of my love of heavy metal. The real heavy metal. Up until September 28, 1994, I was as mainstream a fan as you could find. I was long into all things Danzig but death metal?  Aside from the more doom-oriented Soul Sacrifice EP I had stumbled upon, it was entirely foreign to me. Happily, it was Danzig that started me on the rest of the journey. Thanks to an open door and a loud stereo. A neighbor I had never met was walking past when some early Danzig was blaring and, as neighbors and strangers do in college when beer, drunk women and/or killer music is involved, walked right in. We struck up a conversation and, eventually, a friendship. He stopped by again a few weeks later and made an offer I couldn't refuse. "I want to go into town to see a metal show and need a ride. If you'll drive I'll buy you a ticket." Hell, a ticket? In my 1994 mind a ticket could be worth up to $20-30 (I had paid a whopping $24 to see U2 two years prior, a fortune at the time). A couple hours later I ended up at Bogart's in Cincinnati, at the time still a premiere local venue for a wide, wide range of acts across every imaginable genre. A search of the Cincinnati Post's "Metro" section from September 22, 1994 lists the following at Bogart's:

  • Tonight: Dio with Atomic Opera.
  • Friday: Rumble '94, semi-final round.
  • Saturday: Los Lobos, Pete Droge.
  • Sunday: Barenaked Ladies.
  • Monday, Dave Edmunds.
  • Tuesday, Prong, Clutch & Drown.
  • Wednesday, Entombed, Pungent Stench. 
back when EPs still happened
Entombed released some of
the very, very best
It wasn't until I stood at the ticket window that I knew who I was seeing. Entombed. With Amorphis and Pungent Stench. These names sounded great. The ticket was a seven-dollar value but, equivalent to a six-pack and a pack of smokes, I felt it was a good trade for the ride (gas was still under a buck a gallon way back when, too). I ran down the street to Wizard's and grabbed the cheapest Entombed CD I could find.  I needed autograph fodder as Bogart's also had only one exit for the artists and was a great place to corner any bandmembers for signatures as they headed out.  This CD turned out to be the Stranger Aeons EP. Skull and crossbones? Check. Song titled "Shreds of Flesh?" Check. This was turning out to be the best bargain ever. We headed in, walked straight up to the wall in front of the stage and I, death metal neophyte, bore witness to two bands touring in support of what may have been the best albums of their careers that still stand as classics in the genre: Amorphis with Tales of the Thousand Lakes and Entombed's Wolverine Blues. This same friend recently confirmed my memory that Pungent Stench did not appear and neither of us can recall who went on in their place.

Tales From the Thousand Lakes (Reis)
think The Black Dahlia Murder
are reinventing death metal?
check out the keyboards
 and vocal variations on
Amorphis' crowning achievement
My mind was blown. Fucking blown. I had never experienced anything so raw, so brutal, so violent, so powerful. We held onto that goddamn wall the entire show, letting go only to extend maloik to Lars and Tomi. I can only imagine the pit behind us. My kidneys took a beating and pissing blood for a day or two after felt worth it. I have gone on to collect most of Entombed's work across the years (though I will admit I dropped off the Amorphis train after hearing Tuonela) and while I have never seen them live since, it remains one of my favorite concert experiences ever and is one of the most significant experiences shaping my taste in music for all time. We hung out in the parking lot afterward, I got some autographs and made mental notes of all the groups the in-the-know fans discussed with the bands.

On the drive home, this same dude - the one who would go on to turn me on to other bands as diverse as Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick and Motörhead - asked if he could throw a cassette in the stereo. "It's a new band," he told me, "you may like it." As soon as I heard Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast! it was all over. Everyone else at college could have their Green Day, their Oasis, their goddamn Phish. All I wanted was metal.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome stuff! Ironically, I didn't discover Entombed until *after* I discovered The Hellacopters. FYE - I think Nicke Andersson is playing drums again in a new metal band by the name of Death Breath: http://www.deathbreath.se/