Scouring the Scottish Scene
by: Alain M. Gaudrault
As the plane touched down on the Glasgow Airport runway, I recall making mental preparations for the 3-week adventure that lay ahead for me as I trekked throughout awe-inspiring Scotland. Being the tenacious, relentless metal fan that I am, this trip wasn't just going to be majestic scenery and copious Scotch whiskey. There would be metal, I thought to myself. So as my mate and I meandered about the country in our economy rental car, fearing for our lives as a result of right-hand steering and left-hand shifting, I daydreamed of the remote possibility of there being a wholly undiscovered underground scene taking place in a country greatly unrepresented in the annals of metal history.

My first clue that Scotland was not devoid of metalheads was spotted in a downtown Glasgow marketplace. There, right before my eyes, a letter-sized poster indicating the whereabouts of a club that featured extreme forms of metal. Things were looking up. We decided to check out the club one night, only to find out that the extreme metal was only a weekly event. The lower area that night had a stage featuring a blues-rock band, while the upstairs section had a few pool tables, and a DJ playing rock and early metal. We'd come on the wrong night, but decided to stick around, as we just wanted to hang out and have a few drinks. Saw a guy with an At the Gates shirt, so I figured at least :somebody: had taste in the country's biggest city. Since we were leaving for the Highlands in a few days, we would have to wait awhile before making an appearance at The Crypt, the extreme metal theme night at Ragnarok, the bar in question.

The Highlands, while absolutely breathtaking and making for an insane driving experience, do not offer quite the mayhem I was seeking. Even in Inverness, the biggest northern city, I was hard-pressed to find metal in music shops. Scotland, as a whole, seems to be obsessed with dance, rap, euro-pop, and traditional folk; a major bummer, indeed. Once we arrived in Aberdeen, things started looking up. I not only found a small CD shop which had a few of the more obscure Monster Magnet titles, but another shop, One Up, on Belmont Street, that sold vinyl as well as CD. The staff was extremely helpful; playing music for me that they thought I might like, given my interests; pointing out a CD convention going on that week; handing me a promo copy of one of the clerk's industro-alterna-metal band, Mono Grande (see review this issue). Amongst the alt-rock, dance, and euro-pop, I was lucky enough to find Gorgoroth's _Antichrist_ and Fu Manchu's _In Search of..._. I was also told that Korpse (Candlelight Records), a band I'd heard of for some time, was in fact Scottish. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a copy of their latest release, _Revirgin_. The next day saw me spending a few hours at the Stakis City Hotel, poring over thousands of CDs at the convention which was packing up at the end of the day. Found a few older titles I'd wanted for some time, but nothing terribly exciting. On we went to the nation's capital, Edinburgh, easily the most visually impressive city in Scotland. Not much metal, found a few small shops with the occasional metal CD, plenty of punk though. In fact, we were visiting just as a big punk festival was raging throughout the city; mohawks, neon dye jobs, Doc Martens, and piercings abounded on the city streets, all in anticipation of the evening shows.

Finally, we managed to get back to Glasgow on the last Thursday of our trip. Went to The Crypt, and lo and behold, live heavy music could be heard. I spoke at length with Kelvin Cook, organizer of the weekly event, and bassist/singer of Engulfed, a local grind/death outfit. Here was a dedicated fan of genre, excited about what he saw as a burgeoning scene in Glasgow. As well as providing a stage for heavy acts and creating his own music with Engulfed, Cook also manages a few other acts. Further, he provides space at The Crypt for his friends at Deviation Records (see end of article for more details) to sell their wares. I found several current underground titles, all reasonably priced, in a country where music prices are through the roof compared to North America. Kelvin was gracious enough to provide me not only with a copy of his band's demo, _Castellated Architecture_, but a complimentary copy of Serenade's _The 28th Parallel_ (Deviation Records) and an issue of a friend's publication, The Crypt Fanzine (not to be confused with the venue's theme night), a Scottish extreme metal zine, put out sporadically whenever the author finds the will to do so. See the end of the article for more details. A busy man, Kelvin Cook, that's for certain. See the end of the article for more info, should you wish to get in touch with him.

The entertainment that night, unfortunately, left much to be desired. Kelvin felt simply mortified, and apologized profusely. He'd apparently been pressured by the venue management to permit a pop punk/hard rock/alternative act to play that evening as an opening act. He chose other less-than-extreme (more Machine Head/Biohazard-like) acts to play that night to level things out. Not really a wise decision, in my opinion. The crowd was somewhat sparse, the bands lacklustre. I wouldn't discourage anybody from going, though, as he does legitimately bring in brutal acts on a regular basis. It was all just poor timing on our part.

In retrospect, while I can't exactly say that Scotland is a metal haven, it does offer some glimmer of hope. Along with Korpse, Engulfed, and Confusion Corporation are the Scottish bands to watch for, the latter band appearing on Shiver Records' (see end of article for details) _Sometimes... Death Is Better_ 3-CD compilation of European death/grind/black acts. With encouragement, the scene in Glasgow could pick up, unleashing bands who could possibly make use of the discontent and rage which they feel towards the fate of their country and countrymen, not to mention the British government who seems to dog them at every turn. I would encourage Scottish metal fans that may be reading this to send in their reports on the Scottish metal scene for our new up and coming column, Regional Rage, or informal comments for our Loud Letters section.

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Deviation Records 49 Carfin Road Newarthill, Scotland, ML1-5JZ Voice/Fax: +44 (0)1698 734 344

The Crypt Fanzine c/o Gregory Whalen 49 Bellevue Crescent Ayr, Scotland, KA7-2DP

The Crypt/Engulfed c/o Kelvin Cook 26 Nithsdale Drive Glasgow, Scotland, G41-2PN Voice: +44 (0)1414 235 714

Shiver Records c/o Hans De Wijngaert Bossepleinstraat 6 3128 Baal, BELGIUM

(article submitted 18/11/1996)


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