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80s Hardcore

CVLT Nation Captures: Today Is the Day & Khemmis At St.Vitus

Text & Photos: Charles Nickles

Did I tell you that I work with two metalheads now? Because I totally work with two metalheads now and that’s fucking awesome because:

  1. Metalheads are fucking awesome
  2. I can finally mention bands I’ve seen or am planning to see without sounding like a Lovecraftian pinhead.

One metalhead probably wouldn’t refer to herself as a metalhead, but wears Iron Maiden shirts to work (they’re her favorite band next to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) and just saw Monster Magnet and is generally TOTALLY down with rocking the 80s/90s Hard N’ Heavy thrash/power/party metal which calls out to her formative years, whereas the other metalhead is of the newer school, venerating black/dirge/drone/art metal and owns more Sunn O))) shirts than I ever thought the band had printed and just bought the new Panopticon record on CD because “he’s always bought metal on CD,” and spending my days in an office with folks that revere Bruce Dickinson and Steven O’Malley in equal esteem serves to qualify the stunning breadth the genre possesses and makes me feel right at home with my own proclivities

I’m just a teenage dirtbag, baby.

And though I’ve only ever run into one at a show, they’re both champions and regulars of Vitus and I am 96% certain both of them would’ve left tonight’s gig with a hot heart and a cool grin.

Chain Gang Grave

I’m not entirely sure what to make of CGG but they present diverse as fuck. The guitarist and drummer look like they could’ve settled nicely into the latter, gentler days of Deadguy, the singer’s face is tattooed hard as fuck (est.88) and the bassist is a gentle femme tower in a baby doll dress. I might be wrong about that but they’re sound is heavy all right, and leans a bit towards the embattled choke of NYHC as impressed by the grey swamp of late 90s drugless noise. It’s loud but a little disparate, damn close to a full-on fucking rage but never quite wholly clicking. I’ll check them out in a few months, though. By then end of the year, this band will kill it.




I’ve never been to MDF but I’ve always appreciated its dedication to the ogrish fringe. I appreciate it tonight more than usual because I’m pretty sure that the only reason I’m able to get anywhere NEAR this decidedly intimate Khemmis gig is because half the Eastern seaboard’s headbangers are still wasted in Maryland (where Khemmis AND Today Is the Day just played). So THANKS!

But I digress.

Thunder-loving riffs so big they could knock your fucking teeth out. Stadium wails, liver-torn roars and a course of melodic action so tight you could play it with a dime. That’s the funny thing about doom, man. You always think it’s gonna kick you in the dick…and it does…but then it turns around and paints your cheek with a kiss, tells you you’re pretty in such a sonorous fucking way that you believe it and then suddenly you’re telling all your friends that you’re in love, this is serious, etc. but you know, YOU KNOW deep down this is just another bullet in the belt of that leather lothario.



But it’s cool…it’s cool.

Because you had a good time too.


Today Is the Day

Today Is the Day scare the shit out of me and they have since I first picked up ‘In the Eyes of God’ thinking it would be anything other than the high-concept, cat-skinning, Kenneth Anger hatefuck proggy postpunk up-with-seppuku screech that it is but then I saw them play Loud Az Fuck way back when and I understood, at once, that fear was real.



I told Steve Austin as much in considerably less hyphenated language before he and his new(ish) wholly unfuckwithable rhythm section (he’s always had one… I think when I saw them he was backed by what would become Mastodon) took the stage to play an all kill-or-be-dead set that tapped freely and ferociously into twenty-five years of material that (quite frankly) has never made a goddamn lick of sense but perpetuates through this endless, relentless dream of being by sheer force of will and unparalleled singularity, and I can remember a time where I would drag friends to see them just to watch their faces turn from bemused to beguiled to ghastly but now I go see this band alone because it’s hard to explain with any straight humanist face why “Pinnacle” is one of the best songs ever and certainly one of the most moving live, what with its lunatic phrase and anal hemorrhage epitaph and, OF COURSE, the band played tonight as bare and pained as they did at CBs and it fucking thrilled me man, because for all the fucking discord this band shudders from it’s wealth, “Pinnacle” cries out loudest for its wretched, naked self.

And he replied, “Well that makes me very happy, Charles…means I’m doing something right with me life.”



Written By

Sentient 51423

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