Monday, May 30, 2011

Doom Snake Cult



     I’ve been too harsh on Doom Snake Cult in the past.  They were a good band- wait you mean they’re back together?  Wow.  That’s fuckin rad.  No sarcasm implied.  Those dudes deserve any recognition they get and it looks like people are taking notice. 

    I've never been sure of which genre these guys fall into.  It’s Metal.  It’s heavy.  It’s got weird groovy breakdowns which are Sabbathesque in delivery.  They’re striving for a heavy psychedelic vibe and it’s freaking me out.  In all honesty it’s not my thing but I hung out with the singer Ace a few times years after DSC were over and done. He was a lot of fun.  Except when he drunkenly smashed the window to my shitty apartment on Linn lane.  Or was it guitarist Jeff Schwob who done that?    

    They were at their peak during a transitional time in the Vegas underground.  There weren't many other bands gigging around that time in Vegas who I knew about.  Although I should probably mention that the Wholes were also somewhat active around that time.  During those ramshackle years, roughly 90-92, the Vegas underground seemed rarely linked to the outside music world.  I don’t recall too many touring bands who came through town during those years.  The Elks Lodge seemed to still be a venue on occasion but I mostly remember house parties.  I suppose the Huntridge was on the radar at that time but for some reason I didn’t go to many shows there.  I liked it better as a movie theatre.   


    First time I saw Doom Snake Cult was also the first time I ever took what someone told me was Ecstacy.  I don’t know what it was but I shouldn’t have got drunk before it kicked in.  It seemed to fall flat on me.  The drugs I mean.  In any event I didn’t pay attention to Doom Snake Cult although onstage they had one of those trippy carnival wiggling lights you get for popping the balloons with darts on the midway like you’ll see in this video.  I was fucked up at that show but not in a good way. 

     The second time I saw Doom Snake Cult is a complicated story.  Again I got really stoned but had no money for beer.   That night DSC had girls dancing onstage during their set.  One of the girls was really eyeballing me.  The song ended and the girl who’d been flirting with me asks out loud who has a beer while she’s staring straight at me.  At that exact moment the guy next to me, who I didn’t know, puts his full beer down on the stage and goes to tie his shoe.  I impulsively, and stupidly, grab the guy's beer and hand it to the girl at which point the drummer gets pissed off and starts yelling at me as he comes from behind the drum set screaming that this was his girlfriend and blah blah blah, meanwhile the guy who’s beer I stole gets up and finds himself in the altercation, also my brother and all my friends are behind me yelling and screaming as well!  Heavy scene but it just fizzled out and I think Doom Snake Cult even started playing again after a few minutes time.  I didn’t talk to the dancing girl after all that but I remember she kept the beer.  I'd like to take the time now to apologize to that guy whose beer got stolen.  Wherever you may be.  Again, I wasn’t paying attention to DSC as they performed onstage.

     Uh, let’s see, there had to have been a third time I saw them.  I could swear I took mushrooms and saw them.  Maybe not.   Over beers Ace once told me that Doom Snake Cult played a show with White Zombie out at the West Charleston ditch well before White Zombie became WHITE ZOMBIE.  Only a dozen or so people were in attendance from what he said.  Apparently WZ and their roadies were freaking out by the dust being kicked up around their speakers.  I don’t know any details.  If you were there tell me what you saw.  That W. Charleston spot was a weird one.  But which of these desert party spots was normal?


     Doom Snake Cult were an interesting twist on the Doom Metal genre.  A nebulous sounding name for a genre if you ask me.  I used to think of them as Stoner Rock but that might be a misnomer as well since Stoner rock would  become a genre that would later explode for a few seconds in the late 90’s and then slowly fade into obscurity in the 2000’s.  Or is Doom Metal and Stoner Rock the same thing?  I can't keep up or even care much anymore. They certainly were in the same league as bands like Cathedral and maybe even Grief although the weird hippie vibe they would emit made them stand out among the legions of Sabbath worshippers that came in their wake.  Their style was equally menacing  and somewhat laughable but you wouldn't laugh in their face that's for sure.  They were creepier than “punks” or traditional metal heads because of this weirdo hippie vibe.  Kinda like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family putting together a metal band or a louder Manson family, considering their affinity for psychedelics.  I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say Doom Snake Cult was a psychedelic metal band although I have to strain to hear that psyche influence.  In truth I might only be thinking that because they had the song Acid Orgy and plus I don't know where else you'd place these guys on the hard rock spectrum.    It was hard to see if their delivery was by accident or design although it seems cooler if they stumbled onto it by accident so I’ll just assume that’s what happened.   It’s not something they had to work real hard at nailing down so in that regard they were not posing.  

    They were too mid paced for my tastes but it took balls to try and pry open a style like that in front of crowds who were used to hardcore or at the very least death metal.  Although it should be stated that the umpteenth ska revival was just around the corner at that time.   

     I dig Metal.  It doesn’t have a whole lot of pretensions about it.  It’s a fully developed genre that doesn’t have much leeway in how you ape it.  I respect the adolescent wet dream fantasy world which is a large part of the atmosphere.  The subject matter is largely the same for each style of Metal (Speed Metal/Power Metal/Thrash/Death) and in point of fact I'd say if the lyrics deviate from those subjects too much it might not be considered metal anymore.  There’s a clear delineation of subjects you’re allowed to broach in this realm.  Drugs, woman, motorcycles, kickin ass, getting drunk, Satan, killing people, and other darker facades.  Obviously Death Metal plays up the horrible shit but it’s all cut from the same cloth.  It’s all fantasy.  Which I can respect.

     DSC played up that point in some regards.  I think.  I’m not sure what they're singing about and as with most bands in this genre the lyrics are not all that important in the grand scheme.  In fact the less you know about what these bands are saying the better.  The obvious Conan reference from their name speaks volumes to their Metal mythology or their laziness.  Again I think it's just that outsider status that makes them so unusual and somewhat scary like the Manson hippies.  Living in the desert and appearing vaguely satanic was a potent mix since they don't appear to be clever enough to be faking it.  Which seems to make them even more sinister and unpredictable. 


     Another aspect of Metal I find perplexing is the complete allegiance the fans have for Metal of any stripe.  The fact that Doom Snake Cult's sole release, which I think was really just a demo, is being pressed on insanely expensive vinyl format in 2011 speaks to the reverence metal fans have for any music that resembles Metal.  I'm a bit surprised there would be a market for this music here and now.  I know that sounds like a slight but I only say this in comparison to the huge amount of underground punk records and demos which will never receive any repressing.  The most these hardcore bands can expect is a write up on a second rate blog such as this.  Meanwhile DSC and even Goatlord have super classy pressings which go for big bucks.  Which I suppose is another factor in the divide between punk and metal.  While the ebb and flow of the metal audience comes and goes the fact remains that audience however small throughout America will continue to shell out big money for anything Metal.  It’s a part of the culture.  T-shirts at a metal show generally start at $25.  The punk band that sells a shirt for over $15 is laughed out of the hall.   Even if the hall is packed.  I’m not even gonna bring up the Metal audience outside of America, many of whom will be buying this DSC record. 

     Meanwhile there’s still no real “punk” audience.  And probably there never will be.  There’s the occasional new pressing of upper tier hardcore bands and the irreverent Killed By Death series, which has always been hit or miss, but far too many hardcore bands have been lost in the shuffle.   Is this partly because that target audience might be making that same music themselves?  Possibly but I suspect it will remain that way because it’s just not marketable in the same way Metal is.  Metal will always be a juvenile dream that is dopey but ultimately timeless while hardcore places too much value on reality so it’s shelf life is built in.  It’s always of the here and now and it rarely lives on past that.  Add this to the fact that hardcore, while it seems rigid and codified, is somewhat more pliable than metal.  It has gone on to change and take different forms while metal only seems to change slightly over time especially in regards to lyrical content.  This is an especially unusual development because time was that hardcore was stubborn and unchanging while metal was more accepting of new developments ie. thrash, death, speed.  I'm just going on and on, I have no idea what I'm talking about and it doesn't really matter anyway.  All I know is Doom Snake Cult have a super nice repress that came out this year and they have a sizable internet presence in the form of multiple reviews through multiple blogs.  No other underground Vegas band has anything which compares.  Maybe the metalheads are more obsessed?  Maybe the hardcore heads are always moving forward instead of running in place?  Band's and listeners of today borrow effusively from punk and metal so the line has blurred.  It sometimes seems like the worst elements of each are cropping up to taint it all but I know there's still good bands out there.  You just have to be more selective in what you find I suppose.  Or jut go back to listening to hip hop like I have.

     This is all conjecture and grist for the metal/punk PHD I'm trying to define just to have something to do.  Obviously I'm generalizing just to hear myself write.  I find it interesting.  If you don't why'd you read this far into this post?

     To be fair Doom Snake Cult was peddling this style long before it was fashionable and that is worthy of respect.  It also shows an odd crossover of cultural iconography between the metal of yesterday and the punk ethos.  Since they are still largely obscure it seems like only an elite metal collector would want to add this vinyl repress to his collection.  An elitist attitude consistent with punk record collectors who were used to paying big bucks for original rarities on ebay at the turn of the century.  Original pressings mean big punk points to some idiots out there.  Or in this case big Metal points.  Glad I unloaded some of my vinyl before these repressings and mp3 downloading destroyed the market!  (I got $60 for a TSOL Dance With Me record back in 2004.  Can you believe that?  But I must admit I bought the metal band  Destruction Infernal Overkill LP at a record sale a few weeks ago for $20 but hey that's not as bad as paying $50 for a Dr. Know LP right?)    


     I love spouting my inane philosophical platitudes about shit that only I and 3 or 4 other people would care to ponder in between my fond remembrances of drug induced fits I’ve had.  I’m still considering writing a book about punk and metal.  I think this blog might be training wheels for just such a project.  I got too much time on my hands.           

     Ace is a cool guy.  I always liked him and I think he's a great vocalist for this style.  Lot's of rasp instead of just growl.  I can understand most of what he's singing which works out good.  Glen the guitar player always seemed nice enough but whenever he talked to me it seemed like he was forcing himself to concentrate on what I was saying.  Meanwhile he seemed to understand other people just fine.  Whatever.  He was later a mainstay at the drum circle at Sunset park.  No surprise there.  Even later he started a hippie jam band called the Baccanaul.  I was done with psychedelics at that point.  Or was I?

     I don’t think Jeff Schwab ever liked me that much either.  Whatever.  I’m guessing it was because I dressed vaguely punk and he was an avowed Metalhead.  It’s ridiculous how important those lines seemed back then.  I recall a weirdo freakshow music festival out in Pahrump in the mid 90’s.  I wanna say it was called Pahrumpstock.  Seriously.  I only bring this up because I remember partying with Schwab at this festival and later in the night he passed out underneath his car.  Hilarious.  I always thought he was cool even if he didn't like me so much.    

     I’m surprised to see they’re still kickin it.  I hope it’s the same dudes or at least I hope it’s still Ace, Schwab, or Glenn.  I wouldn’t care if they got a new drummer.

    There are several blogs offering links to download this record as well as some spotty and spot on reviews.  There's even one that offers the demo pictured above.  Doom Snake Cult more popular now than ever before!  ACID ORGY!! LSD!

Blog with the original CD download found here

I have yet to see this new vinyl ripped and posted online but I'm sure it's coming.


6 comments:

  1. I misread the Doom Snake Cult myspace page. They are not currently back together. The drummer is in a new band called Spun In Darkness and they posted new shows on the DSC page. I was gonna change the post but it's so funny as it is.

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  2. thanks dude.. blogs like this are appreciated for the personal stories. i will continue reading as long as you continue to give us something to read as opposed to all the blogs who just offer downloads with generic descriptions of the time, bands and genre. ;) snapshots or our lives coupled with the bands we heard at the time are indeed sweet soundtracks to our lives.!

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Stumbled on this bro...Nicely written old friend..

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  5. And for the record..Noofal a.k.a Big Rog was our drummer...Spun is Jeff, drummer from Goatlord's band..Still killin it..And DSC did a ton of acid, but Acid Orgy is a Goatlord song..

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  6. Cool interview with Ace: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bigpoppaonline/2013/08/18/third-eye-cinema-81813-with-ace-still-of-goatlord

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