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Weird Live Review: Cattle Decapitation

Cattle Decapitation

Photo by Vince Edwards/Metal Blade Records

Well, I finally experienced my first Cattle Decapitation show and I must say, they exceeded my expectations. They’re a bit less weird than I was led to believe — the whole extreme vegetarian thing isn’t such a big part of their shtick anymore, as half the band members now eat meat — but they’re a super-intense live act. Especially frontman Travis Ryan, who has a death growl that can peel the paint off the back wall. Listening to him roar, shriek and gibber over Cattle Decap’s deathgrind onslaught is like hearing Mike Patton do vocals for Cannibal Corpse.

My full review is over on LA Weekly, so check it out. And fear not: We’ll have an update on their forthcoming album right here on this here blog as soon as details emerge. (I learned from a label publicist that they begin recording later this month in Denver, but that’s the extent of my knowledge. Well, that and the fact that the new songs they played during last night’s set sounded, at least to my untrained ears, exactly like what you’d expect from Cattle Decapitation.)

Rockbitch

Rockbitch

We get a lot of submissions from bands that like to perform in various states of undress, up to and including full genital exposure. It will not surprise you to learn that 99% of these bands are dudes. Guys love whipping it out in public, and doing so in the name of rock ‘n’ roll stopped being a transgressive act a long time ago. When Blink-182 does something, it’s officially no longer any big shakes.

For women, it’s different. Thanks to our society’s inherent sexism and double standards, female sexuality is still taboo in ways that male sexuality is not. So the fact that a band like Rockbitch ever existed is a fairly remarkable thing.

Rockbitch was a British hard rock group that emerged from the ashes of another band called Red Abyss. From the start, Red Abyss embodied many of the same principles that later came to characterize Rockbitch: It was female fronted (though the drummer, and occasionally other members of the revolving lineup, were men), communal and sex-positive. But compared to Rockbitch, Red Abyss’s lyrics and stage show were comparatively tame: “We were hiding our lifestyle behind a facade,” reads the band’s official bio, written by their guitarist, Lisa “Babe” Wills, “self-censoring our natural behaviour.”

Part of the problem was that, while fans and promoters encouraged and even rewarded outrageous behavior by male rock bands, they tended to frown upon similar antics coming from the ladies of Red Abyss. “Male bands with whom we were sharing a stage would perform screaming out their fake rebellious bullshit about sex and satan — then insult us to our faces saying that we shouldn’t be fucking all those men and women in our dressing rooms, and did our parents know how we behaved?”

Red Abyss also encountered straight-up sexism at every turn: booking agents refusing to deal with their female manager, male sound guys and venue employees assuming they didn’t know how to play their instruments or outright sabotaging their sets, venue owners insisting on handing the money to a male roadie rather than to a female band member. “We were, bluntly, being treated like shit.” This happened, by the way, wasn’t happening in some pre–women’s lib Mad Men past. This was in the ’90s.

Eventually, the women of Red Abyss had had enough. They became the darker, heavier, more sexually aggressive beast called Rockbitch.

For a few years, up until they disbanded in 2002, Rockbitch was probably the raunchiest band on the planet. Many of the band members performed naked, or nearly so. Songs like “Fistfuck” would be acted out onstage. During every show, they’d toss a “Golden Condom” into the audience and invite whoever caught it, male or female, to come backstage and fuck several members of the band. (“Babe” Wills liked to point out that, of everyone who ever caught the Golden Condom, the only ones who would chicken out were the men, some of whom apparently assumed it was a joke. Rockbitch’s in-your-face female sexuality was, and still is, highly intimidating to many men. Including, we must admit, us.)

None of this was done for shock value, at least not primarily. As outlined in various essays and manifestos on the band’s website, Rockbitch’s mission was to destigmatize female sexuality and sex in general. And hard rock seemed like the perfect vehicle for doing so. “When a woman can’t even strip to the waist and play a bitching, head-down guitar riff, have her lead singer fuck her with a strap-on whilst a stage surfer licks her feet without authorities wanting to ban over 18’s from coming to see it — well, what has the world of rock and rebellion come to!?” their website playfully asks. (And no, that’s not an exaggerated description of their live show.)

By 2000, Rockbitch’s lineup had become all-female: founder/matriarch Amanda “The Bitch” Smith-Skinner on fretless bass, Julie Worland on vocals, Lisa “Babe” Wills on lead guitar, Luci the “Stage Slut” on rhythm guitar, Nikki Fay on keyboards and Jo Heeley on drums, plus two or three “Sex Magick Priestesses” who danced and facilitated some of the sexual rituals. The band’s former lead guitarist, Tony “The Beast,” stayed on as the band’s manager and producer — no doubt in part to run occasional interference with sexist bookers and venue owners.

Musically, the band played theatrical, heavy rock, highlighted by Worland’s operatic vocals, The Bitch’s fluid, often funky basslines and Babe’s scorching guitar. Here’s a good example, a track called “Sex & The Devil” that also happens to features a weirdly witchy video, with the Rockbitches cavorting half-naked in the forest:

As you probably got from that video, besides all the sexual themes and imagery, an element of paganism runs through Rockbitch’s music and philosophy — though Babe is quick to point out on the band’s website that they are neither Wiccans nor Satanists. As best as we understand it — and I admit, as a couple of uptight dudes in monogamous relationships, our understanding is probably shaky — they celebrate sex itself as sacred, particularly the acts of cunnilingus and vaginal penetration, which they describe as forms of “cunt worship,” the vagina being the source of all human life and therefore the most sacred component of human sexuality. This worship/celebration of sex extends, paganistically, to the worship of nature in general; although their website stops short of describing many of the group’s offstage rituals, or explaining the full meaning of their many onstage ones (“we are intensely private people,” Babe explains in her “brief and grudging account of part of our belief system”), their are a few photographs showing things like an “earth-fucking ritual” and a “serpent initiation ritual,” suggesting that the cult of Rockbitch is a fairly elaborate one that extends far beyond just the music and sex acts.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the authorities tended to lose their shit over Rockbitch. The band was banned from performing at many venues, and their music and album artwork was heavily censored in many countries. It’s not clear what role if any this played in the band’s eventual breakup. but it couldn’t have been easy for the women to tour or get distribution for their music.

Rockbitch only released one studio album, 1999’s Motor Driven Bimbo, plus a live album, Rockbitch Live in Amsterdam; during their brief run, the Netherlands seemed to have been one of the few countries where the band was able to tour on a regular basis. A second album, Psychic Attack, was never officially released but has been widely bootlegged and can be found on various torrent sites. Motor Driven Bimbo is out of print, but copies occasionally surface on Amazon and elsewhere, often selling for $100 or more.

Post-Rockbitch, the band’s full lineup resurfaced in a clothed, less theatrical incarnation called MT-TV. But that group soon disbanded, as well. Amanda Smith-Skinner and Jo Heeley later teamed up with singer-songwriter Erin Bennett to form another all-female band called Syren, but tragically, that group dissolved after Heeley died of breast cancer in 2012. Other former Rockbitch members have, as far as we’ve been able to tell, retired from making music — though according to their Facebook page, they still live and work together as a commune.

We’ve known about Rockbitch for years, but were reluctant at first to add them to the Weird List because to do so seemed sexist. So it was a bunch of women with guitars and their tits out — so what? A bunch of men doing the same thing would be met nowadays with a collective shrug. To add them to our compendium of extreme music felt like yet another example of the very double standard in music that Rockbitch railed against.

But as well researched the band further (while our wives were at work), we decided that regardless of their gender, Rockbitch were truly unique. No other band in history, male, female or coed, ever randomized the groupie selection process as radically as Rockbitch did with their Golden Condom, or made oral sex and vaginal penetration such a routine part of their stage show. Rockbitch incorporated sex into rock ‘n’ roll performance in a way that’s never been done before or since. And as powerful, liberated women, they made that sex a political act. A Rockbitch show was a rock concert, neopagan ritual and radical feminist performance-art piece all in one. And lots of people got laid. That’s the truly awesome kind of weirdness this blog was designed to celebrate.

We’ll leave you one more video, for a track from Psychic Attack called “Breathe.” This appears to be a fan-made mashup of strange naked zombie go-go dance animation and video from one of several concert documentaries made about the band, probably 2002’s Sex, Death and Magick (which, if you’re so inclined, and are over 18, you can watch in full on YouTube).

Links:

Winny Puhh are back and just as batshit as ever

Winny Puhh

Thank god for you folks out there in Readerland. If it wasn’t for you, we’d never get caught up on all the weird music we missed during our last hiatus. Topping the list of shit we slept on: a new album from Estonian spazz-punks Winny Puhh, who released their latest album Kes küsib? (Who Asks?) on Sept. 28. Big ups to reader Jimmy Miller for dropping that knowledge bomb into the spider hole we’ve been hiding in these past few months.

We’ve only been able to find two tracks from Kes küsib? online, but they’re pretty insane even by Winny Puhh’s unhinged, hanging-from-the-ceiling standards. Let’s give them a listen, shall we?

That was pretty great, but this next track ups the ante with some throat singing while also managing to be kinda catchy.

Apparently, Kes küsib? was the number one album in Estonia at one point. Which officially makes Estonia the coolest country on the planet. Sorry, Japan. You had a good run.

There doesn’t seem to be any way for us Americans to legally purchase Kes küsib?, unless you trust your Google translator and/or limited grasp of Estonian to guide you through this site, which appears to be selling legit copies of it for 13 Euros. [Update: One observant reader pointed out to us that the site has an English translation button. So Estonian fluency not required after all.] It’s also on a shit-ton of Russian torrent sites, but we’re not gonna link to those ’cause they’re shady. If you really want a Russian black market MP3 copy of Kes küsib?, we’re sure you have what it takes to figure it out.

Mac Sabbath

Mac Sabbath

Every once in awhile, a new weird band comes along with a concept that is so completely fucking brilliant, you can’t believe no one else thought of it sooner. That was the reaction we first had when a friend of ours here in L.A. invited us to see a McDonald’s-themed Black Sabbath cover band called…wait for it…Mac Sabbath! Genius, right?

It was so genius that we were sure they must suck…no idea could be that clever and well-executed. Turns out we needn’t have worried. You’re in good, puffy clown hands with Mac Sabbath…those hands belonging to one Mike Odd, the same twisted visionary behind another of our favorite weird local bands, Rosemary’s Billygoat. (Officially, Mike Odd is just Mac Sabbath’s manager. But let’s just say that must be Mike’s brother under the “Ronald Osbourne” makeup, because the resemblance is uncanny.)

We were apparently fortunate enough, by pure dumb luck, to attend Mac Sabbath’s first-ever live performance (blurry photographic evidence below) back in July and it was fucking amazing. Hamburglar came out first, tossing hamburgers at the audience as he took his place behind the drum kit. Then came the guitar player, Mayor Slayer McCheese, horns protruding from his cheeseburger mouth like he just ate a whole steer. Then came Grimace, and of COURSE Grimace plays the fucking bass. Most bass players have a little Grimace in them. If you painted my high school garage band’s bass player purple, he’d basically be Grimace with slightly more hair.

Ronald Mc…sorry, Osbourne, came out sporting red and yellow fringed sleeves and took up position behind a mic stand shaped like a giant milkshake straw. The band launched into “Sweet Beef” and the rewritten Sabbath songs just got more ridiculous from there: “Frying Pan” instead of “Iron Man,” “Pair-a-buns” instead of “Paranoid,” you get the idea. I’m pretty sure “Rat Salad” is still just “Rat Salad,” though.

The highlight came when Ronald reached into his takeout bag, pulled out a hamburger with bat wings, and took a massive bite out of it. Or maybe the highlight was when he started using a giant straw to sneak slurps of audience members’ drinks. Or maybe the highlight was just watching Grimace play the bass. Seriously, I could not get over that part.

I’ll leave you with a live video of the band performing “Frying Pan,” complete with subtitles so you can appreciate the full hilarity of what Mike Odd and company have aptly dubbed “Drive Thru Metal.” Supersize me, Mac Sabbath!

Oh and here’s our bragging-rights photo of their very first performance:

Mac Sabbath at Bergamot Station

Links:

Behold Vulvatron, GWAR’s awesome new female lead singer

Vulvatron

The post-Oderus incarnation of GWAR continues to exceed our expectations. Instead of replacing the irreplaceable entity that was Oderus/Dave Brockie, the band’s reportedly totally revamped their stage show and added not one, but two new lead vocalists fill Oderus’ massive platform boots.

After unleashing Blothar on the unsuspecting masses at the GWAR-B-Q, they presented his female counterpart, Vulvatron, at Riot Fest in Chicago this past weekend. And she is pretty much everything one could hope for in a lady GWAR demon. She’s hot. She shoots blood from her massive breasts. She takes great selfies. And she fucks shit up with the boys. We’re sold.

Vulvatron’s human counterpart is one Kim “Kylla” Dylla, who’s just as much of a badass IRL, as the kids all say these days. Just check out her CV on her website: degrees in art and computer science, a painter and costume designer, wrestler, frontwoman of her own metal band Thismeansyou. She’s going to have human filth lining up around the block after every GWAR show hoping to be her disposable sex slaves.

Speaking of GWAR shows: The band’s also announced a massive, 45-date tour that’s also being billed as the band’s quest to find the missing Oderus. Here’s what guitarist Balsac the Jaws of Death says about the tour on the GWAR website:

“Dark clouds of war and ill omen have gathered around GWAR. In our hour of greatest peril, Oderus has left us and our enemies stand poised, ready to strike while they sense weakness. But we shall no longer cower in our Antarctic stronghold, awaiting Destiny’s final blow. This Fall GWAR sets out on the most trying quest of our career. We shall scour our leader’s favorite stomping ground, North America, leaving no city unsearched, no venue unraised, and no sheep unmolested. GWAR will venture to the depths of Hell or to the very end of Time itself, and though I fear what we may encounter out there, I know that we can never return home until we have the answer we seek: ‘Where is Oderus Urungus?’”

So what say you, GWARmy? Do you stand ready to help your demon overlords in their hour of need? Are you ready to get sprayed with blood from the almighty udder of Blothar and the unspeakable breasts of Vulvatron? Goddamn right you are.

Here are the dates:

GWAR W/ Decapitated and American Sharks:

10/15: Norfolk, VA @ The Norva
10/16: Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
10/17: Stroudsburg, PA @ Sherman Theater
10/18: Worcester, MA @ The Palladium – “Rock and Shock Festival”
10/19: Buffalo, NY @ The Town Ballroom
10/21: Louisville, KY @ Expo Five
10/22: Memphis, TN @ New Daisy Theater
10/23: Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Live
10/24: New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues
10/25: Austin, TX @ Emo’s – “Housecore Horror Film Festival*
10/26: Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live
10/28: Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom
10/29: Sauget, IL @ Pop’s Nightclub
10/30: Lawrence, KS @ Granada Theater
10/31: Denver, CO @ The Summit Music Hall**
11/1: Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater
11/2: Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee
11/3: Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
11/4: Reno, NV @ Knitting Factory Concert House
11/5: San Francisco, CA @ The Regency Ballroom
11/6: Hollywood, CA @ House of Blues
11/7: Las Vegas, NV @ Hard Rock Live
11/8: Magna, UT @ The Great Salt Air
11/10: Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory Concert House
11/11: Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
11/12: Seattle, WA @ Showbox SODO

GWAR W/ TBA and American Sharks:

11/14: Vancouver, BC and Commodore Ballroom

GWAR W/ Corrosion of Conformity and American Sharks:

11/15: Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory Concert House
11/16: Calgary, AB @ MacEwan Hall Ballroom
11/17: Edmonton, AB @ Union Hall
11/19: Fargo, ND @ The Venue
11/20: Minneapolis, MN @ Skyway Theater
11/21: Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
11/22: Detroit, MI @ Harpo’s
11/23: Grand Rapids, MI @ The Intersection
11/25: Indianapolis, IN @ The Vogue
11/26: Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues
11/28: Charlotte, NC @ Tremont Music Hall
11/29: Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
11/30: New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
12/2: Nashville, TN @ Exit/In
12/3: Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
12/4: Pensacola, FL @ Vinyl Music Hall
12/5: Orlando, FL @ Firestone Live
12/6: Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
12/7: Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
12/8: Millvale, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theater
12/9: Toronto, ON @ Opera House
12/10: Montreal, QC @ Virgin Mobile Corona Theater
12/11: Clifton Park, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall
12/12: New Haven, CT @ Toad’s Place
12/13: Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Sound Stage

*No American Sharks
** Havok plays on this show

Weird of the Day: Melvins, “The Talking Horse”

Melvins

In our write-up for Tera Melos, our reigning Weird Band of the Week, we noted that all of their brilliant music videos are the work of one man, a director named Behn Fannin. We decided to dive into the rest of Fannin’s catalog in search of further gems of weirdness and came up with this classic from punk/sludge metal legends the Melvins, from their 2006 album, (A) Senile Animal. Our new favorite video director Fannin’s been doing twisted things with creepy puppets and visual non sequiturs for a long time, it seems.

If you want to see more of Fannin’s work, check out his Vimeo channel.

Weird of the Day: Paysages Éphémères, “IV”

Paysages Ephemeres

A dude by the name of Dave Tremblay contacted us awhile back looking to swap links with his website, Can This Even Be Called Music. Because we’re flakes, we kinda blew him off…but yesterday, he emailed us again, and this time, there’s not enough flakiness in California (the Flake Capital of America™) for us to ignore his latest project.

As Dave explains it, Paysages Éphémères is an experimental grindcore project created entirely without stringed instruments. That means no guitar, no bass, no violins…just percussion, vocals, electronics and maybe a severed artery or two. He’s released four chapters so far out of a planned 53 and it’s all varying degrees of batshit weird. I hear some influences from other experimental metal artists like Igorrr and Jute Gyte, but Monsieur Tremblay is on his trip here.

Oh, P.S.: When you hear any vocals, that’s Tremblay reciting the Enchiridion of Epictetus, an ancient Greek Stoic text. So it’s educational as well as skull-crushing.

You can hear the rest of the project on Bandcamp. Dave released the first four parts in only a week, so check back often, because he seems to be on some kind of crazy roll with this stuff.

Weird of the Day: Puig Destroyer, “Mike Trout”

Puig Destroyer

Listen, I love baseball, but it is not the most metal of sports. Football, clearly…the American version, you Eurotrash bastards…football is the most metal sport, following closely by MMA and NASCAR. But that’s all the more reason to love Puig Destroyer. Here’s a bunch of guys who took one stupid pun and a love of the world’s most boring game and created the greatest grindcore band since…well, since Pig Destroyer, the band whose name they’re riffing on.

The other thing they’re riffing on is L.A. Dodgers center fielder Yasiel Puig, a great young player but hardly the most metal guy in the majors. He’s not even the most metal thing on the Dodgers…that honor still goes to Brian Wilson’s beard, even if the player attached to said beard kinda sucks these days.

So it’s about time Puig Destroyer finally…I mean, they’ve been around for a whole year now…finally recorded a song in tribute to the most metal guy in the majors, the Angels’ Mike Trout. Now this dude’s an absolute beast. Here’s a 489-foot home run he hit earlier this season. Even in the world’s most boring game, he’s fun to watch. And now he has a grindcore anthem worthy of his beastliness.

In case I wasn’t being clear: Yes, all Puig Destroyer songs are about baseball. Other titles include “First to Third,” “Destroyer of Baseballs” and my personal favorite, “Stop Fucking Bunting.” Seriously, guys, just knock it off. Your game’s wimpy enough as it is.

You can hear all of Puig Destroyer’s ball-themed mayhem on their Bandcamp page.

Weird of the Day: Hardcore Anal Hydrogen, “COI”

Hardcore Anal Hydrogen

I know we’ve been doing “Flashback Fridays” around here lately but I don’t care. This video is too fucking good to wait till Monday. Besides, it came out in February, so that counts as a flashback, right? Ah, Feb. 2014. The good old days, before Ferguson and ISIS and Robin Williams and Christ, what a depressing summer this has been.

Anyway, this is yet another French band from Apathia Records, the same lunatics who brought you Pryapisme. Hardcore Anal Hydrogen aren’t quite that out there, especially on this track, which is pretty straight-up post-hardcore with some fun tempo changes and electronic elements. But the video kills me every time. I almost hope the next metal band I see just sends cardboard versions of themselves onstage. It would probably be more entertaining than some shows I’ve been to.

You can find out more about Hardcore Anal Hydrogen on the Apathia Records website.

Weird of the Day: Deathgrind violin with Joey Molinaro

Joey Molinaro

Our buddy Folkicide told us to check out this guy Joey Molinaro who does something called “acoustic grind violin.” Intrigued, we clicked over to one of his YouTube and yep, this dude basically plays grindcore/death metal by himself with a just a violin, foot-stomp percussion and the occasional strangled vocal. The results sound like a cross between a mosh pit and a hootenanny, or maybe something you could call Appalachian folk metal. Check it out.

If, like us, you can’t get enough of this shit, there’s plenty more where that came from on Joey’s Bandcamp page.

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