Grandfather, Tell Me a Story
by: Matthias Noll
When I started to write for CoC I was already 35 and thought I had seen it all.

I had been the only one who had brought a tape when Venom's Legions Deutschland chartered a bus to travel to Nuremburg and attend the Seven Dates of Hell show there. Everyone had to listen to _Show No Mercy_ on repeat for approximately six hours. It's safe to say that I am responsible for Slayer's breakthrough in Europe and Kerry King still having a job. The rumor that I bought _Show No Mercy_ just because of the promo photo with the girl on the altar is also true.

On arrival in Nuremberg I had been perplexed to see Konrad Lant wearing shining red, knee-high transvestite boots. Based on the pictures on the back-cover of _Black Metal_ and up until this point in time, I had been expecting a ten foot creature half demon, half necromantic swine.

Seconds later I wondered what song they were just playing, although I knew all of them in my sleep. Knowing a guy who wrote letters to them in his own blood did not provide spiritual guidance to recognize "Black Metal".

I proudly let Lar$ Ullrich sign my Venom's Legions Deutschland back-patch there and no clairvoyant was at hand to advise me not to let him soil it forever. I even dared to ask him the important question "How old is Kirk?". I have forgotten his answer, but it was long and life-changing.

I was aware of only one person on earth who liked Hellhammer while they existed. The consensus "in the Frankfurt scene" was that he was an idiot and Hellhammer sounded like crappy punk.

Possessed's _Seven Churches_ had almost given me a permanent tinnitus but was also the only reason I had not been falling asleep at the wheel on a nightmarish nightly drive from the North of Germany back home, and in the process saved me and the three thrashers in the back from serious harm. When I got an advance tape of _Beyond the Gates_ I hoped it was only a demo. I still think that would have been preferable. Carl Canedy should have never ever been left alone with a mixing desk after _Feel the Fire_.

I had been to Black Metal Night where Sodom and Destruction got their recording contracts. Tankard on the other hand didn't, because one of their guitar players wore a pullover Norwegian style. The fact that they had made up fictional words to achieve a better flow to the lyrics for "Incredible Loudness" made a bigger impression on me than their very first life performances. Scream for me, Sindlingen: "Running Free, Kill em down, Let's play heavy with much rown"!

When Sodom started to play that night I went outside after only ten minutes because apart from the visuals -- the bone Grave Violator had stuffed through his bullet belt was almost as tall as himself -- they were absolute shit. I was not the only poser at Black Metal Night. Towards the end of their set the intense witching metal had driven everybody out but about ten people, three of which had collapsed on the floor.

Memories of Tom Angelripper still haunt me to this day. Crowned by a bowl-style haircut from hell, he desperately tried to get someone to pick up his "Sodom, Sodom, Sodom" chant and attempted to unplug amps all the while Destruction played their first show using Sodom's shabby equipment.

Man, this could have been the day Destruction killed Sodom. Dig the alternative universe with all the possibilities for myths and legends.

One night in Southern Germany the hooligan buddies of Exumer's Ray Mensh pulled the singer from Blood (Ger) off the stage and threatened to beat him up if he continued with his bullshit yelling and grunting. Amidst the amateur wrestling some random guy got on stage and replaced him on the microphone. Violence subsided, Blood were legion, unstoppable and blew up the PA, leaving Exumer and Holy Moses with the backline.

I can also testify that the Celtic Frost live in Weinheim bootleg is a scam because I was there and Tom Warrior wasn't.

I swear there was a "Metallica have sold out with _Ride the Lightning_" point of view and it took me years to get over the use of Exodus riffs on side B.

I had a legendary laugh along with some friends when we heard the first Napalm Death album and were 100% sure we had never heard anything that bad before.

I'm still laughing every time I remember that Quorthon intended to hire Sodom's Witchhunter. But if you fail to play guitar in sync with a drum computer like on _The Return_, things might even out when the German synonym for timing problems sits behind the kit.

I wrote history again sitting on Exciter's bus when they supported Accept on the _Metal Heart_ tour by answering Dan Beehler's worried question "why are you so silent" truthfully with "I don't know what to say". I maintained the manly not-knowing-what-to-say stance for a full twenty minutes before I left.

I encountered my personal end of German power and speed metal when Hansi Kürsch announced the song "Tommyknockers" describing the following terrifying scene: "Imagine you walk through the woods at night, and there is... a Tommyknocker". In German. With a decidedly manly voice. With the first name Hansi.

I had heard _Beneath the Remains_ sans vocals on Max Possessed's Walkman at the blazingly hot Copacabana beach and didn't take a single picture during four days in Rio because someone advised me that taking my twenty buck camera outside would be the guarantee to become the next victim of Brazilian street crime. Disaster struck completely when he couldn't find someone with a tape recorder to make a copy of the tape before returning to Belo Horizonte.

Besides listening to _A Blaze in the Northern Sky_ once or twice I had successfully ignored the second wave of black metal for half a decade. I was convinced that the world did not need a bunch of teenage weenies running around in Scandinavian forests with swords and make-up all the while musically imitating Bathory's self-titled album and _The Return_. I occasionally played "To Walk the Infernal Fields" from some Earache sampler to visitors with a metal background because its perceived shittiness was a guarantee for howling laughter and verbal agreement on the sad state of metal.

A precious possession of mine turned out to be the book "They Only Want Your Soul" which was regularly handed out by Christian scatterbrains after metal shows. Amongst the description of some slightly less hilarious sightings of Satan himself, it featured the true story how Gene Simmons once stuck his Satanic tongue out of some metal fan's Kiss poster. At midnight, you bet!

My personal memories of Chuck Schuldiner the Great center almost exclusively around the asshole's habit of cancelling European tours.

I kickstarted the second wave of black metal by deliberately throwing up against a church door -– hail Satan -- when coming back from the local pub in a very intoxicated state, pre-dating the Norwegian church attacks by a full five years!

Apart from the obvious narcissism and said feeling of having seen it all at the end of the '90s, I had pretty much run out of friends who still were into metal, their recommendations and inspiration, the sharing aspect of things, and had also finally become disillusioned with the German metal press and leading magazines like Rock Hard.

What can you say about a mag that has rated every Tankard album higher than _Altars of Madness_ and crowning _The Oath of Black Blood_ and _Vengeance War 'til Death_ as "Arschbombe des Monats" (ass-bomb of the month) with a whopping 0 out 10 points rating? Suffocation got 3 out of 10 for _Effigy of the Forgotten_. My appreciation of these albums suffered a delay of only ten years. Be advised: never, ever trust the German metal press.

The Internet opened-up a whole new world for me, a different and much broader perspective and a range of bands I had so far not heard about. Mainly because said German print magazines were more interested in still boycotting certain black metal bands and again and again featuring already established bands while maintaining a blind eye towards emerging bands like Nile, Opeth, Angelcorpse and many, many more.

I don't remember exactly how and and when, but I came across Chronicles of Chaos one day and was impressed with their reviews, the style, the overall quality of writing, the scope of bands. I wrote an application.

Somewhat to my surprise, they took me. Despite my halfway decent English, despite me laughing about _Scum_ and "Infernal Fields". Of course I hadn't told them.

Alvin Wee's reviews introduced me to Clandestine Blaze, Nunslaughter, Sabbat, and in the process loads of other obscure black metal. David Rocher had delved much further into the pure death metal and Scandinavian melo-death metal subgenres and introduced me to what felt like 200 bands. Pedro Azevedo spread doom and darkness in his path. Paul Schwarz's long chats with Napalm Death, Nile or Metalucifer were and still are amongst the most interesting interviews I'm aware of this side of Kick*Ass magazine. Steve Hoeltzel finally opened the bestial floodgates and taught me how to go to sleep chuckling comfortably while listening to _Vengeance War 'til Death_.

I bought records based on their recommendations and reviews, just like I did back then when it all started. I bought records I had ignored so far because I was a fool to trust the local press or just had not been aware. I identified and then filled shame-inducing, gaping holes in my collection and knowledge of the genre. The Internet and CoC re-lit the fire, made me approach the whole genre with a new-found enthusiasm and erased the feeling of been there, done that, know-it-all completely. It made being an ageing metal fan who's still up-to-date even without local friends possible.

I was proud to be part of something that was so refreshingly un-commercial and totally DIY while delivering what I still mostly consider great quality at the same time. Even if some of my contributions make me seriously cringe when I read them again, I am sure that most of the time we were successful in delivering a good read, a worthwhile recommendation, a service to fellow headbangers.

Amateur writer´s block and laziness ended my amazing career, and I had plenty of time during retirement to read Blabbermouth and the NWN forum... until Gino announced that CoC would close its doors in August 2015.

Fittingly I have rarely been a reader myself for quite some time, and it's mostly technology that killed the text-based e-zine. I've recently bought the absolutely amazing Yamaha CD-N301 CD/network player with Spotify Connect functionality for only 300 Euros after my trusty Marantz CD player refused to handle _Blessed Are the Sick_. Of course I got myself a Spotify subscription and since then there is almost no downloading and need to rip, tag, transfer to iTunes, search iPod, find iPod, transfer to iPod, hook-up iPod to my amplifier anymore.

It also means that instead of reading some random dude's notes about this or that album I just press a couple of buttons on my smartphone and listen to the whole thing on my decent stereo. Gone are the days of determining a reviewer's orbit compared to your own taste and decoding wave after wave of metaphors and off-topic clutter to get hold of the bits that might finally give me a clue what the music sounds like.

And so I sit here now with my Spotify subscription, 300 GB of MP3s, 1000 something CDs, a metric ton of vinyl and the gear to listen to metal in memoriam CoC as a reader, fan, ex-writer and friend of some of the guys until the sun turns cold. But unfortunately pressing the buttons doesn't come easy all the time, because I'm not left with a lot of enthusiasm.

What once started as a novelty and festival gimmick, the reunion, has now taken over. It is a rider of the apocalypse symbolizing the genre's artistic bankruptcy and the audience's overwhelming desire to gather and party as if you just don't care. Preferably together with the dude in the banana costume.

Metal once had something to do with youth, now it's presided and led by a committee of revenants, regurgitating the glory days. After returning from a well-deserved hiatus, your average reunionist is not content with a once-in-a-lifetime re-enactment of the old days. And, like every self-respecting rider of the apocalypse, he chooses from a whole heard of mighty steeds which go by the names of Wacken, Hellfest, Keep It True, Headbanger's Open Air, With Full Force, MDF, Summerbreeze, Sweden Rock, Metal Holiday and a multitude of inbred offspring. Once he's commanded the ten thousand side by side to circle pit or perform the wall of death, and bathed in the shadow of their horns, he's ready to soldier on into eternity. His bestial reunion from hell is not a short-lived affair. Due to the refreshing nature of the hiatus even guys in their fifties return with enough stamina for the absolutely long haul.

So we get the world-exclusive reunion gig at first. Then, after many months of stubborn denial, the inevitable, mediocre-at-best reunion/comeback album is upon us, and sells 665 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position 37 on the Top New Artist Albums (Heatseekers) chart, which lists the best-selling albums by new and developing artists, defined as those who have never appeared in the Top 100 of The Billboard 200.

This is followed by the never-to-end-again continuation of the reunion on different steeds or in remote places like Chile. From the Nuclear Assaults, Nirvana 2002s, Exciters, Death Angels, Coroners, etc., etc., etc., down to the fucking eleventh tier basement dwellers whose only trace of existence is a Metal Archives page. Well, everyone but Sepultura. I should travel to Brazil again and try to thank Andreas Kisser in person for so far not letting this atrocity happen. I will take a camera with me this time.

Even in the most bestial depths of the underground the situation is no different. Nuclear War Now festival is headlined by Blasphemy, a band that's definitely influenced and spawned about 68.686 gasmask wearing goatfago clones but is about as musically relevant today as the Rolling Stones or AC/DC. Even the motivations to go and see them might be identical. By all means they could be dead next year and you might lose your chance to tell your grandchildren that you were sieg-heiling at the bar while the Ross Bay Cult played next door.

In a financially more comfortable realm AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest etc. adhere to Lovecraftian principles which postulate "That is not dead which can eternally tour". Instead of having the decency to follow examples set by Jimmy Hendrix, Bon Scott or Randy Rhoads, they keep fading away looking older and less metal than my 78 year old father. Or, in the curious case of David Coverdale, my mother.

They don't seem to care that it has really been 20, 25 or even 30 years since their last good record. They bless the planet's eager metal youth with last chances to see the true legends before grim reaper comes knocking. Legends are larger than life. Who cares about wrecked vocal chords, fading hair, prostate problems, a tumor here, a slipped disk there? Just come back from chemotherapy in time for the next leg of the tour. You piss yourself on stage? Just establish the nightly water-bucket challenge to cover it up. Welcome to the metal nursing home which is still hell patrolling and running free like it's 83 even if it's not just two minutes to midnight but also until the final bad news from the biopsy come in.

Soon enough Halford will be riding on the wind on a custom Harley Davidson wheelchair and go full playback, and there's no doubt there will still be an audience that is demented enough to think that he's still doing well "for his age" and certainly has got another thing coming. Just play two octaves lower and a bit slower and the teleprompter will fix the rest. Apart from these top dogs, the whole circus obviously has enough "job" opportunities for absolute bottom feeders like Paul Di'Anno to somehow survive.

Meanwhile the few that didn't have to reunite because they missed the right time to disband have come up with a new threat. They publicly confess what everyone knew anyway. That apart from the one or two semi-classics from decades ago, they have only released mediocre or crap albums that achieve unsatisfactory levels of showing the devil's horns and only initiate the wall of folded arms. They play the -– exclusive of course -– old-school set-list. The once-in-a-lifetime classic album from start to finish gig! Just imagine, even songs they haven't played since 1985!!

But let's be careful not to get too nostalgic here and rest assured the next album is surely going to be their best, like, back-to-the-roots, by public demand, you know. Even King Diamond, refurbished by the doctors with 25 bypasses, is eager to falsetto on for two more decades and shares his confidence that his greatest album lies ahead of him, seriously. The music industry might be on its knees, money is in short supply, but you still need a new album to have a reason to hop on next year's festival circuit with the ultimate old-school set. This business has got some strange rules.

When not busy playing the old-school setlist or the final final tour, yesteryear's heroes and grim anti-commercial black metallers alike sue each other in public. They sue over band names, money, copyrights, getting spat at by human wreckage in a vest or getting publicly denounced by former bandmates for being too old or untrue to cult on. What's next? Public display of underwear to prove you do indeed have enough stamina for performing half of the old-school set and contrary to your ex-bandmate's recent malicious statement are not shitting yourself twice a day after the colostomy? Partaking in an open medical study to prove to the court that homosexuals can indeed play black metal?

Of course the business and the money was always part of it. But starting your band to make it big, or even for the nookie surely produces totally different results than to keep doing it because you do not want to spend the rest of your life watching your snake collection digest mice. Or, in case of the second and third tier dwellers, go back to flipping burgers and sleeping on mommy's couch at the age of fifty. Success in the metal genre is defined as "keeping the job" these days.

The title of Employee of the Year without a doubt goes to Kerry King of once titanic and now half-Slayer. His unshaken dedication to the metal and the fans enables him to have another past-time apart from looking like his own action figurine. He wouldn't know what else to do but release irrelevant albums and be on tour. He is a pro at it and hasn't done anything else for 21 years since bloody _Divine Intervention_. Keep "the job" and be open about it on Blabbermouth and I might have to cleanse my collection of the hallowed _Hell Awaits_.

The future looks brighter than ever now that the "the band is greater than individual members" motto is not used exclusively to indoctrinate the Kiss Army to keep the shekel ready and follow the brand into the next millennium. Sub-genre co-founders Exodus have also picked up the chant to justify the absence of Gary Holt from gigs and tours. Bless him, a regular paycheck from Kerry is not to be sneered at. High-top wearers all over the globe just close your eyes and Gary, and on perfect nights even Rick Hunolt, will make an appearance 1:31 into "Strike of the Beast". You paid for Exodus and the Exodus attack you will get. Even Baloff's spirit might float around if you just wish hard enough.

Once-underground label Nuclear Blast has achieved world metal domination, churning out the same "new" shit over and over and signing bands for the one reason which seems to pluck the leaks between reunions, zombies and job-owners in the line-up of the ever-growing festival machine. Who did foresee the joy and luxury of being able see Mütiilation and The Scorpions now together with 20-30 Nuclear Blasts at the same event? With a bit of planning, luck and a good flight connection you might be able to wash away the still fresh festival dust in the pool of the Liberty of the Seas. Take a powernap in your first class cabin and in no time you'll be ready to get nuclear blasted into oblivion again.

It's almost a miracle that it took the public and finally even the leisure industry decades to realize that your average metaller is an easier, cleaner, better customer than a bunch of pensioners who might trouble the crew with a heart attack during captain's dinner. The whole Satan, leather, spikes, long hair, denim vest, growling, blasting, screeching shtick really fooled the rest of the world into believing that this scene and its inhabitants is less conservative, philistine or shallow, even dangerous.

The Wacken festival and its media coverage just needed a few years to dispel the fourty year old myth about metal fans being dangerous anti-social devil worshippers. Public perception got rightly adjusted to your average metal head being a well-mannered cuddle bear in a denim and leather costume whose most excessive deed of rebellion against society is to drunkenly collapse in a pool of piss behind the merchandise tent on hot festival afternoons.

The peace, love and harmony atmosphere and the intense bro-hood of elder men in the backstage area inspires bands like Kreator to refrain from taking as many lives as possible and attempt to become a thinking man's version of Manowar and come up with cringe-worthy shit like: "This is what we stand for, something you cannot kill. We are the counter-culture and we are growing still". Even world music icon Max Cavalera has stopped from jumpingdafuckup for a second to read the signs of the times, discover the metal in his veins and re-sell his soul. "Born to rage against the order" they stand in union with the Wacken fire brigade orchestra and atrocious comedy acts and watch the counter culture show their new costumes to the mainstream media delegates.

While Schlachtschiff Metal is going full-speed ahead a gazillion true Satanists and black metal cults perform their "rituals" against Christianity on the lower decks. Finally true, unlike the five generations before them and in uncompromisingly non-commercial fashion, as well as honestly afraid of becoming the next Watain of course. The more forward-thinking among them might have learned a lesson or two from the recent Inquisition PR disaster and are prepared for the worst case scenario of suddenly getting drafted for the metal job and have their "the tattoo artist told me my Swastika was a Chinese letter" statement already written.

In rebellious fashion the genre follows the one-page black metal rule-book and continues to insult poor baby Jesus as if now is the last chance to take action before the holy inquisition knock-knocks at your cabin door searching for your heathen niece. Someone chopping down the holy Hingirsdottir oak 843 years ago is all the reason needed to keep on with the Satanic powerlifting and Christhunting in 2015.

Together as one Satanic terrorist Einsatzgruppen stand against Judeo-Christianity in an age where the Christian or Judaic faith is as relevant as chewing gum vending machines in the street. When comes the Moyen artwork depicting Che Guevara as a satanic goat mounting the whore of Bethlehem? I stand ready to type "Total support" and pre-order!! Let the theater continue until the dragons and unicorns return or someone with a ski-mask and IS tour-shirt shoves a sword of Islam up the last true white wolf of Wotan's butt.

Now back to the real world one last time. Who would have doubted that Glen Benton is still plotting Godkill after all these years? See, he's also got a job in the company that Kerry is working for, just another department. Kerry is the guy who employs Gary. Gary is the guy who -is- the band he's not playing with because he's working for Kerry. Just in case you were losing track.

Some corrections that need to be made:

Hail of Bullets - _...Of Frost and War_ (Metal Blade records, 2008) by: Matthias Noll (11 out of 10)

The only death metal classic released in the last fifteen years. The best lyrics in the genre delivered by one of the best and most original death metal vocalists. Blockbuster hit after hit is unleashed with an absolutely immense sound. Apart from the extremely down-tuned guitar sound and reminiscences to "Revel in Flesh" in "Red Wolves of Stalin" this record is as much a Dismember tribute as Häagen Dasz is Scandinavian. Sorry Jackie ;)

Rebaelliun – _Annihilation_ (Hammerheart Records, 2001) by: Matthias Noll (9 out of 10)

The best Krisiun album ever, by far and also one of the best Southern American death metal albums. Of course the reunion is upon us.

(article submitted 12/8/2015)

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All opinions expressed in Chronicles of Chaos are opinions held at the time of writing by the individuals expressing them.
They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone else, past or present.