with Carnal Forge
Camden Underworld, London, England • January 8, 2002
Listen, man. You shoulda been there. Well, I don’t know, maybe you shouldn’t have. Perhaps you would have been as shit scared as I was. Humiliating, man, humiliating. A sea of shoehorned denim, leather, piercings and spikes, ebbing and surging maniacally, perhaps even raging, if you’ll allow the hyperbole. I’ve been to more metal shows than you can shake a stick at, been to the Camden Underworld a few times (including a trip to see the mighty Angelcorpse) — fuck, I’ve even seen Mortician once before. But it’s never been like this. Never in front of a seething pack of bloodthirsty savages.
Motherfucker, they were even going totally apeshit for openers Carnal Forge; the floor was packed and fights were breaking out in the pit. But that was downright sedate compared to what would come. Coming out to the opening sample from “House By The Cemetery,” Will Rahmer, Roger Beaujard, and Ron from Malignancy were greeted with total fucking rapture. I was dumbstruck; always figured that Mortician were too godlike and weird to gain any sort of widespread following beyond a hardcore legion of noiseheads and gore fiends. First time ever playing in London, I could understand some level of enthusiasm, but this was bloodlust idolatry. Even the band seemed a little taken aback.
But, c’mon, Will Rahmer’s such a biker-meets-axe-murderer hardass in demeanor that he barely betrays any emotion, save his ever-present scowl. So fucking New York, makes me feel like I’m back in America for a moment. While I’m at it, can I just say that Rahmer is my favorite frontman in metal at the moment, both sonically, that bowel-destroying gutter growl, and visually — think Rambo meets a Hell’s Angel meets Michael Meyers. Which is a good thing, because he’s the only band member I could see the whole night, as I wanted to get a good vantage point and ended up pinned between the lip of the stage and the soundboard. Shit, for the second half of the show I couldn’t see a goddamn thing at all, because there were so many bastards onstage. There were a group of fanboy Mexicans filming the show, sundry photographers looking worse for the wear, some insistent stagedivers, and one very tall English guy who just stood there, about six inches away from Rahmer. Weird.
Lemme tell ya, from what I did see, he was in fine form tonight, headbanging, gurgling away at the microphone, pounding away bass notes that could trigger instant intestinal liquidation. I felt sorry for this greasy-haired guy beside me, he was happily headbanging all over the place in the beginning, but by the end, when all he could see was a bunch of legs and feet, he kind of drooped pitiably against the stage. You bastards, all he wanted to do was rock!
Anyway, listen, remember when I mentioned stagediving earlier? I thought it kind of died, but let me tell you, it’s alive and well in Camden. Fuck me, man, I’ve not encountered that since… um… Machine Head, Orlando, 1997. And bottles (quite a few) were flying and fists were flying and damn! That pit! Mosh to Mortician? To one-minute subsonic noise gems? It can be done, I guess. I saw it.
Fucking chaos. Guitar leads were getting unplugged all over the place, and Rahmer even got clocked in the mouth by the microphone once. He didn’t seem to mind, though. In fact, the band totally fed off the whole bloody mess, doubling and redoubling their assault. Songs took on a whole new intensity and urgency when faced with this lunatic human wall. It was incredible, they were ten times as strong as when I last saw them in Florida (and that show was a tie with The White Stripes for my favorite show of the year). And yes, Mortician do cut the mustard live. In spades. Beaujard is an excellent drummer, giving it full on Human Tornado action, Ron Malignancy and Rahmer complement each other’s guitar lines for maximum brutality, and Rahmer’s voice is every bit as nasty as on record. Not only that, but the songs have a looser, more experimental feel, with riffs twisted and fleshed out, without losing any of the splattercore intensity of the original. Incidentally, they’re going to record some live-in-the-studio versions of earlier songs with this touring lineup, in the fashion of a Peel Session. On the evidence of tonight, that should be essential listening. Oh yeah, where am I now? I can’t see anything, I can’t move, it’s fucking hot as hell, but the evil noise is so glorious. Fuck the extracurriculars, Mortician is god, okay?
PS: We all file out in an orderly line and get a kick out of the kids practicing their best death growls while still keeping politely within the boundaries of the orderly line AND saying excuse me when bumping into someone.