FEAR, EMPTINESS, DECIBEL: RECOLLECTIONS OF TOURING BEHIND DYING FETUS’ DESTROY THE OPPOSITION
Before there were blogs there were these things called magazines, and the only metal magazine we still get excited about reading every month is Decibel. Here’s managing editor Andrew Bonazelli…
The Wire mainstreamed the notion of Baltimore as a third world demilitarized zone, but Dying Fetus have been giving the state of Murderland a (very) bad name for over 20 years. The death metal institution did things the old-fashioned way: building their rep via a couple eyebrow-singing records in the minors, attracting the attention of a then-nascent scene powerhouse (Relapse), making just the right personnel adjustment to take the slams to the next level (securing guitarist John “Sparky” Voyles), then defying everyone’s expectations by delivering a hook-heavy, crisply produced powerhouse. That breakout third album, Destroy the Opposition, is the latest honoree in Decibel’s Hall of Fame, and—like most true classics—is the product of creative people with a singular identity and vision, executing it without interference. Pervasively influential (mostly in a good way), Opposition wound up being the one-and-done for DF’s most beloved lineup, as the eventual fracture spawned still going-concern Misery Index.
Fond memories persist for those who lived through it. Occasional Decibel contributor Brian Straight was among them, and like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, he has the pictures to prove it (not sorry at all), not to mention a pretty cool anecdote that he recently shared via email. Crank up the wayback machine:
Just after Destroy came out, I picked up a copy through Relapse mail order and headed out to China to teach for half a year. I think the CD came out in 2001, so this would have been January 2002 I’m talking about. I remember sitting in the airport in Detroit waiting for my connection to Beijing, and I was listening to the disc on my CD player, back before you could load tons of shit onto an iPod. The whole airport was abuzz because Puff Daddy (back when he was still called Puff Daddy) was in the building and, dude, every Afro-American in the airport (which is a LOT if you’re in Detroit) was literally bubbly with giggles hoping he’d cruise by. Then just across from me at another gate in my wing of the building, a flight was taking off for Japan and one of the passengers had fallen asleep at the gate while everyone else boarded. One of the Japanese flight attendants came out of the gate and went over to the dude and was totally berating him in Japanese. She was shaming his sorry ass in front of the whole terminal—the guy was so embarrassed I was certain he’d commit honorable suicide. But I barely heard any of it since I was listening to the Fetus CD.
Fetus took me to Quebec City with them in July 1995 (when Brian Latta was still on second guitar and Casey Buckler on drums) to help pay for gas. I’m pretty sure I paid for the WHOLE trip, actually, but I offset the cost by not helping with a single piece of their equipment. It was the first time I’d traveled outside of the U.S. on my own, so everything was like this big awesome haze. On that trip, the whole gang of us almost got “expedite removed” (fancy word for deportation) from the Canadian border when we willfully misrepresented our purpose of travel there. (“Oh, all this gear and these CDs and T-shirts? We’re going to the Montreal jazz fest to jam on open mic night, and we’re giving all the merch away for promo and tax write-off purposes.”) But it was before 2001 and the Twin Tower attacks, so the borders were still really loose, and Quebec’s version of Border Patrol basically let us off with a warning that they hoped we weren’t planning to perform for money in their country, since that would be “illegal.”
Jason was the one to invite me to Canada with DF two weeks prior, when I’d run into him in mid-June 1995 at Death’s first North American tour date for Symbolic, which took place at a now-defunct club in Alexandria, VA called Nick’s. A magical fuckin’ show—Chuck was hanging out with everyone, and there were only about 100 people total at the club since the show had gotten bad advertising, so it was basically like watching the band do a rehearsal for a few friends. They didn’t even need a PA—just plugged into their rigs and got down to the show, opening with “Spiritual Healing” and “The Philosopher,” then working their way through all the classics. So, to get the invite to cruise up north with Fetus while hanging out after the show was the icing on my metal cake.
Photos attached: one of us with Chuck (long black hair guy in the photo is Erik Sayenga when he was still playing with Witch Hunt, a full year before he joined DF for their first U.S./Canada tour supporting Kataklysm and Monstrosity), another of me and Jason and a random Quebec metal guy while I was up there with ’em, and a third of John “Growl-agher” onstage at the Quebec gig, ripping Quebecois metalheads down front, smiling the whole time because they loved watching him do arpeggios.
The July 2012 issue of Decibel also features Baroness, Nile, Fear Factory, and an awesome Unsane flexi disc, and can be ordered here. But why not just get a full subscription to ensure that you never miss an issue?