Can I Interest You In Some Crushing Swamp Sludge?

Two weekends ago, I went to my first “death metal” concert. Before March 8,Β  I would have said I was watching “hard rock.” But now I have seen the light and can tell you with certainty that both those terms are HIGHLY insufficient to express the breadth and (anguished) depths of this musical genre.

What I really saw, ladies and gentlemen, wasΒ  a concert opened by a Rock band, continued by a Progressive Rock band and headlined by a Renegade Bong Metal band. Oh, yeah. (There’s nothing worse than a renegade bong.)

I freely admit, I’m kind of a musical prude. Not on the Frasier Crane level of classical compositions and operatic arias, but I am pretty committed to my classic rock, my Top 40, my musical numbers, and my 90s alternative lite. I rarely branch out. I completely identify when my friend Jess says supporting her boyfriend’s punk band requires a kind of love she hadn’t dabbled in before. And then, a few Fridays past, J said:

I planned our date for this weekend. It’s a surprise. You’re definitely gonna hate it.

Well played, husband. He know I’m like Barney Stinson when it comes to accepting a challenge. “I’m gonna love it!” I whooped. “For sure!”

Cut to Saturday night. Thank the unholy baby Satan (or whoever these guys worship) that I happened to be wearing a silky black blouse instead of my usual bright-colored sweaters. When we rolled up at the dingy, thumping concert hall, the crowd outside gave me my first inkling that this wasn’t one of our usual excursions. Facial hair and skeleton T-shirts and a dude wearing a milk jug on his head – oh my!

The next surprise came courtesy of the guy at the door. J tried to pay the cover charge with a five, four ones, and four quarters. It was all we had! The doorman got indignant . “Naw, man, we can’t take change. We have to pay the bands with this haul!” Replied J: “But it’s money.” Deadbeat Doorman: “No it’s not, bro. It’s change.” *Looks at us like we’re stupid.* J: “Ummm, actually… it is money.” DD: “You’re gonna have to go to the ATM, dude.” J: “Are you serious? I have $10 right here!” DD: “Well…” Me (exasperated): “Screw it, we’re out of here. Make sure to tell the bands you lost them two ticket sales.” DD: “OK, OK, if you’re gonna be like that…” *He stamps our hands with a black cat.*

Once we were in, I spent most of my time at the bar drinking hard cider and sneaking sidelong glances at the grown man wearing a milk jug mask. He was quite a dancer. After the Progressive Rock group finished their set, J told me one of his old high school friends was playing with them these days, and that’s why we had come. It was actually pretty cool to see this long-haired bear of a guy go from tossing his head with a concentrated snarl on his face to hugging J like a long-lost pal. And – I admit it – I did my fair share of fist pumping and head nodding as the night went on.

What I never, ever would have expected was the specificity of the band descriptions listed on the “Coming Attractions”Β bar sign. Turns out a group called Mobile Death Camp plays Swampy Thrash/Speed Metal, but the band Irata plays Progressive Heaviness. Lorin Walker Madsen goes in for Hell Raisin’ Heart Breakin’ Country, while Obliteration churns out Old-School Norwegian Death Metal. And I’m confident nothing could prepare my eardrums for Grooms of the Stool and their Brain-Souping Metal, let alone “Shtfcker” and their Crusty Metal/Punk.

Did you guys know about this? Am I just out of the loop? And would you ever go to a concert to hear something called Crushing Swamp Sludge?

Can you believe there is a “kid-friendly” tutorial on how to make these milk jug masks? TERRIFYING.


90 responses to “Can I Interest You In Some Crushing Swamp Sludge?

    • You’re musically inclined. Yay or nay to “swampy thrash” in your songbook?

      I did enjoy jumping, though. (Literally!) And I enjoyed giggling at one lead singer whose growl-scream voice contrasted utterly with his baby face and short blond hair.

      • Can’t say I’m into the swampy thrash — I’m generally more inclined to being able to hear what the person’s singing, and then, that it is intelligent, or at least coherent.
        But to each their own, I always say. Except when it comes to the plagiarism that comes with overuse of sampling, I say live and let live.

        I never got caught up in the mosh pit stuff, even though I had many opportunities.

  1. I haven’t heard of any of those genres, let alone those groups. But, the old school Norwegian death metal sounds lovely. I’ll go get my milk jug and will meet you there. πŸ™‚

  2. I had NO idea it was so specific when it came to this. I have to admit I don’t listen to “death metal” and one of the few “hard rock” songs I listen to is by The Pretty Reckless. I have no idea under what category they are in.

    This was fun to read! Oddness about the money though! It *is* money indeed!


    • Now I have to look them up! J listens to this kind of music sometimes, especially when he’s working out. There are some songs by Breaking Benjamin that I like.

      *double waves*

      • Ohh let me know what you think, please. I don’t listen to all the songs, but “zombie” and “make me wanna die” are the ones I often listen too. She (girl from series Gossip Girl” has a cool voice. Especially live performances where you can really hear her rock/grunt voice. I usually love the guitar segments in rock songs haha

        I’m going to look up Breaking Benjamin!

        *triple jazz waves*

  3. HAH congrats, you should never say no to new experiences, I’ve taken that to heart since a life changing event last year and I’ve experienced all sorts of “amazingness” since then

  4. Ha! I know there are many types of metal out there as I’m into harder music, but when I spot a Demu Borgir t-shirt (Scandinavian metal band) at a festival I avoid eye contact… No idea what each really means. Sounds like an entertaining night and excellent blogging material. x

    • I just Googled Demu Borgir. And now I know that metal-spiked leather pants are a thing. Who needs to sit down, anyway?

      In high school, a guy in my Spanish class used to worship a band called Insane Clown Posse. He’d come to school in a black trench coat and a rubber clown mask… and then speak broken Spanish and ask permission to have the bathroom pass. Adorable, really.

      • Hahahaha! I would have loved to see that. I’m guessing the creepy clown mask and trench coat didn’t do it for the ladies. Or gents.

  5. I hope your ears aren’t on strike after all that metal. Sounds like one hell of a weekend though.. your husband does realise he will have to top it next time out??!

  6. Sigh… Welcome to the world of death-metalists. I have a friend who listens to everything from “punk rock” to… any one of those genres you listed. It’s exhausting trying to keep up with all the niches.
    Personally, I like my punk rock, and I like to keep it that way.

  7. LOL.

    I saw a Japanese band once in Sydney that defied all explanation. They came out dressed only in aluminium foil, and after ten minutes of what i can only call noise they were completely naked… but persisted with the noise-making for about another 30 minutes. There’s a fine line between genius and insanity.

  8. “Old School Norwegian Death Metal”–my child has discovered this recently. Just don’t call it anything other its proper title LOL

  9. I have to say that I have partooken of some German heavy metal death bands in my life. Go to YouTube and listen to ‘Du Hast’ by Rammstein. If that doesn’t get your knickers in a ruckus nothing will.

    Wow. I used knickers, ruckus and partooken in one paragraph. I rock.

    • You do rock. But that video is creeeeeeeeepy. (Yes, all those “e’s” are required.)

      A club I used to go to in Mexico had one night a week devoted to heavy German rap type stuff. A guy in an astronaut suit – helmet and all – would come out and dance/thrash on the balcony above the main dance floor.

  10. I have spent the last decade of my life involved with ‘less-than-mainstream’ music. I have played muddy skate fests, dingy bars, and eccentric watering holes. I have done a gamut of genres. (Surf-skate punk, sludgey doom-metal punk, stoner rock, ect..) At this point it seems like people are just throwing words together, and I no longer know how to properly describe what style my band is or what lil nuggets of joy I have found in my musical excursions. However, I have recently been introduced to a genre called “power violence.” They could not elaborate the tone or feeling, rather there face lit up with joy and they blurted the bands name out. (It was vile, no doubt.) Sure, I’ll bit. We put on the record and it was neither powerful nor violent. Infact it was really sedated electronic music. Since then I have taken a leap at entering a club when someone had referred to one of the bands being of the genre “power violence.” I now have seen maybe a dozen bands that claim said genre. They are all respectively nothing a like in tone or feeling, and only one fit the bill.

    • I’m so happy you read this. I had no idea! (Hopefully you are indeed the Danny I think you are, and hopefully you also have an awesome sense of humor about my mini-jab at your band.) πŸ™‚

      Muddy skate fests sound freaking amazing, and “nuggets of joy” are the best possible result of playing or listening to music you love. I can’t pretend I understand the names, but I could see the people at this concert come alive.

  11. God, I haven’t seen my bong in years. Decades! It was a black ceramic skull with the toke tube poking out of the top of his head and the bowl near his mouth. We named him “Skully” because we were White Punks on Dope and that what we do.

    Best band name ever: Jiggle the Handle.

    I’ll see pretty much anybody, although I now have to sport earplugs at those types of concerts. But I’m down for it. Kudos to J for being creative. That’s not the same old night in front of the flatscreen.

    • Skully makes me think of the X-Files, because I am and always have been a colossal dork.

      Also, because it has to be said: “I’ll jiggle your handle.”

      • All these years and I never made the X-Files connection. Just the bong. And it’s so obvious! I wish I hadn’t smoked all that weed when I was a kid. I’m not joking. I think they’re going to do a study one day and find that weed is far more harmful than we ever imagined. It sure did a number on me, I can tell you that much.

        • Really? I have never heard anyone say that. Share more? Not that I need convincing – I wouldn’t know who to ask even if I wanted to get some. Not you, apparently. πŸ˜‰

          • Not me is right. All it does is make me paranoid and dull. Plus, the proceeds support an “industry” that I don’t like. Drug lords. People who toke a little weed once in a while are completely detached from its source. They never give it a thought. It’s all cool, man! But that’s the truth of it.

          • I left Mexico soon after the drug cartels got really out of control. My ex’s mother saw a severed head in a vacant lot on her street. Nightclubs were advertising increased security, and the rich still weren’t letting their children go out for fear they’d be kidnapped. It does have consequences, and that’s not a moral judgement but a fact (or maybe both).

    • But you’d look fetching in a cooking pot, instead of off-kilter and vaguely intimidating. This guy was not one for smiles, and I can’t help but think that you are!

      • Ah, that is unfortunately true. Most people say that despite trying to look like someone to avoid, I end up looking adorable.
        I used to run an occult forum in my country, I looked like a pink bunny on our meetups (I probubly shouldve left my Sponge Bob baloon at home πŸ˜„ )
        I just miss the jumping and just being able to wear what I want on my head and I’d love to growl out some swampy metal πŸ˜€

        • I have the same curse! I frequently say that my goal in life is – just once – to physically intimidate someone. Weird goal, but you get it! I can play mental games all day long, but I still look like I might be too young to drink. If I had the time, I’d get into martial arts…

          Also, I love the image of you growling metal on stage. The red hair would work for sure!

  12. well i have been a hard rock metal head from way back, and only in the last two years or so did i discover all the new categories of metal-must say, im pretty much and industrial death metal chic now (when im not listening to my good old ‘classic metal). so i am not familiar with the bands you saw, but there are still plenty to hear. and ya, i probably woulda gone to that concert, lol.

    • Do people usually dance to this music? Most people at the concert were just standing, watching, maybe doing some head nodding. But one guy was dancing like crazy, alone in the back of the room.

      • generally headbanging is the ‘dance’, which pretty much consists of banging ones head to the drum rhythm, and if you are really into it, also ones torso and even maybe stomping of one foot/leg. at least this is how it was for ‘regular’ heavy metal, lol. i am past the age of concerts, so not really sure if this is different to the different genres of metal and to current styling compared to what i experienced back in the day lol!

  13. I wasn’t that adventurous, but last fall I went to an Oktoberfest celebration. It was daring enough for me…I was raised in fundamentalism religion type places. I was very much surprised and discovered myself having so much fun. But, no, I don’t see me going to the kind of concert that you braved. I’ve listened to it, but that was enough.

    • I’ve never celebrated Oktoberfest! (Isn’t it amazing how many experiences life offers up to us? We could try something completely new every day and still not run out of possibilities.) What did you like about it? The people, the music, the beer?

      • We went with a group of friends, and stayed there with them for several days. I loved being with the people and the music and dancing. I am gluten sensitive so I drank some local wine instead of beer. The dancing was the most fun, though. I think I did the chicken dance like seven or eight times during one day. It was so much fun!!

  14. Wow, that J is quite a guy!

    My level of musical prudiness is on par with yours; I have never heard of these genres of musicians either. (Though I bet dollars to doughnuts the descriptions are very apt.) πŸ™‚

  15. No! I had no idea about the specificity of these sub-genres! And loved learning about them. Also, loved the juxtaposition of you with your normally-colorful attire in their midst, sneaking glances while downing hard cider…

    Finally, I’m so glad you included an image of the milk-jug heads! I was intrigued, confused and completely creeped out before seeing it — not that this is a bad effect to induce in your readers… Although, even after seeing it, I’m still creeped out. But grateful to be brought at least a foot or two closer to the periphery of the “loop.” Thanks, Jennie.

  16. Thanks for the picture clarifying the milk jug on the head. See, I thought you meant the guy had cut off the BOTTOM of the milk jug and was wearing it with the spout on the top — kind of like a plastic Pope’s hat. I feel ridiculously old admitting that metal is just not my thing — but then again, it wasn’t my thing when I was in my 20’s or 30’s either. However, it might be interesting to put in heavy duty earplugs and just go to observe the wildlife.

    • I stared at him SO MUCH. He was more entertaining than the music, but also more ominous. Metal will never be my thing either, but at least I can say I tried!

      P.S. I was at the airport this morning and did some quality wildlife observation. Love Actually had it right. πŸ™‚

  17. I used to be a huge metal guy, and yeah it can get hilariously specific. They even have “Viking Metal” as a genre. I bring it out sometimes when I’m feeling nostalgic, and my girlfriend despises it. So I’m impressed you went to the concert. But at least you got to see a guy in a milk jug mask right?

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