The Metal Files

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Archive for the ‘norfolk’ Category

King of the drums, Gene Hoglan

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The guy is a total badass on the drums. I’ve been a fan since I first bought Dark Angel’s Darkness Descends. That album is still awesome today even though a bit tame by death/thrash standards. I really didn’t care much for the band’s subsequent albums but I did get to see them live @ the Atlantic Beach Club in ’89. Death was part of that tour as wel but their van apparently broke down and they couldn’t make the show. Didn’t matter, Dark Angel ruled that night. Right before they went on, the band was walking through the crowd of people (maybe 40?) and I was standing right next to the stage when BAM! I get knocked down by a train…well…Gene Hoglan.

They started rocking out and he was phenomenal to watch. For whatever reason the singer didn’t care to sing Merciless Death so I got to do vocal duties for much of the song. Quite a thrill for a pimple-faced 19 year old like me.

Being a huge fan of Death I was stoked when I read that he was doing an album with them. he ended up doing 2 and by far those are my favorite Death albums, Individual Thought Patterns and Symbolic. RIP Chuck.

Although his drumming was pretty awesome on the Strapping Young Lad (SYL) stuff, I just couldn’t get into the music. I was a distributor for Century Media at the time SYL came out and used to get their promos and stuff and I tried to dig it but it never stuck with me.

In 2003 SYL came to Norfolk with Napalm Death and Dark Tranquility. SYL was the opening act. I got to the venue pretty early to hopefully catch Gene outside. Sure enough he came off the bus and hung out with my friend and me. I had him sign my book (which will be discussed in another blog) and some other Dark Angel stuff. The guy was so cool. We talked for quite a while and he asked me what I was doing after SYL played. i told him my plan was to watch SYL and go home as I didn’t care much for the other bands. Nuclear Assault was playing about 15 minutes away and he asked if I could take him to that show after the SYL set was finished. What was I going to say, “no”? “Of course I’ll take you!”

This is where the story gets a little more fun. At the time I had a 2000 Saturn Wagon and they aren’t the biggest cars in the world. If you know anything about Gene you know that he’s about 6’5″ and 300+ lbs. You should have seen us trying to stuff him in my front seat. It was pretty hilarious. Once we finally got the door closed on the car we were on the road to see Nuclear Assault.

I guess I was being a bit quiet while we were riding because gene said something like, “You ok over there, man? You’re really quiet.” I looked at him and said, “You’d be quiet too if you had one of your musical idols in YOUR car!” We all laughed and talked a lot in the short trip.

We arrived at the shitty venue that Nuclear Assault was playing and Municipal Waste was in their last 2 songs. That was my first time seeing them and they were pretty awesome live. After their set gene walks up to their drummer and tells hiim he was great. The kid looks at Gene and just says, “Thanks, man.” Then a second later the guy realized that it was gene Hoglan and flipped out. I think he even got a tear in his eye. He was obviously a big Hoglan fan.

We drank a lot there. ufff. Gene kept buying shots.

Gene grabbed the guys from Nuclear Assault and introduced them to me. Super nice guys. They got on stage and just ripped it up. Great show! After some more greetings and hanging out with NA after the show, I took Gene back to his tour bus and we were invited on to hang out. Devin Townsend was sitting next to me eating a banana. He offered me a bite and I graciously declined.

It was an awesome time and I wish I could find the foto of Gene and I from that night.

Written by The Metal Files

January 21, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Your sudden faith is all in vain…

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Spring 1988. I was a senior in high school and one of only 2 metalheads in that school. It was a small private Catholic school in Portsmouth, VA. I really hated that school and 90% of the people in it. My 9th and 10th grade years were pretty fucking brutal. New kid in a school in which most of them had known each other since kindergarten. I had nothing in common with them. I was an outcast. It was probably partially self-imposed.

To cope with all the bullshit that comes with being an awkward teenager, I immersed myself in music even more than I normally did from just being a huge music fan at a young age. Music was my life. Music is my life.

Back to 1988. I remember reading in one of the metal mags about a band coming out called Sanctuary and that their debut was being produced by Dave Mustaine. I was a big Megadeth fan at the time so this sparked my interest even more. I went to the Music Man on Friday night which was a pretty regular routine for me and my friends. We’d get our allowances and go blow it on music.

We put it in and sat silently while riding in my ’66 Nova 4-door. We were blown away. This voice. This high shrill that was cutting through everything. Warrell Dane. Who? Exactly.

We all got super excited when we found out that they were coming in concert as the opener for Megadeth and Warlock. We were right up front for the whole show. Dane hit every note perfectly. All 3 bands were great that night. Of course the majority of the crowd was there to see Megadeth, but I was mostly there for Sanctuary and Warlock. I got blown away.

This is one album that I wish would get remastered. It sounds like Peace Sells (Megadeth), which is to say that it’s very muddy, the drums sounds like shit and I think there may be a bass guitar in there somewhere. Their follow-up disc sounded much better. So please…someone re-release this with a remix/remaster!

Die For My Sins is definitely my favorite song. The whole album is badass except for their version of White Rabbit. I detested the original and this version. After getting to know Warrell Dane several years later, it made sense why he loved the song so much. I still think it sucks.

Poor production and one silly cover song aside, this album gets a 9/10. With it coming out in 1988 in the height of the pretty boy LA metal scene, it stands heads and tails above most other albums from that year.

Written by The Metal Files

October 12, 2008 at 2:08 pm

Has it really been 21+ years?

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I’ll never forget the first time in 87(?) that a former friend from high school and I went to a “new” record store in Norfolk called Skinnies Records. We didn’t know what to expect and I think we even got lost on the way. I was driving and my pal was navigating (bad news!). So we find it on 21st St in Ghent and go in.

So we walk in and I believe the first time we went in, Jeff was working. Now, Jeff was a big guy too. So that’s 3 big guys in this store. What I haven’t mentioned yet was that the store was only about 14′ x 14′ and jam packed with records and tapes. That’s right kiddies, CDs had not hit the market yet. Jeff was an asshole. He knew he was so I’m not talking behind his back. He was an asshole but after we started coming in there a few times, he lightened up.

Maybe the second time I went in there, this tall sort of jangly looking guy who reminded me of Ian Gillan was working. He was cool. He was into metal. Jeff never seemed to really care about metal that much, but Steve was always ready to talk about it. I continued to go there for years and was excited when they were able to expand their current space which seemed to just get filled up again! That’s when CDs were starting to catch on too.

I pulled some real gems out of that place. Much of my (now gone) Iron Maiden vinyls came from there as well as a few of my more rare Triumph records which I still have. Pat Travers’ Putting It Straight Jap pressing on CD was one of my ultimate finds. I still drool about it every time I listen to that CD. I got several old Metal blade, Combat and NOISE Records albums as well…of course they weren’t old at the time.

I generally would schedule my trips in there over the years when Steve was working. Jeff was getting caught up in some bad shit and it eventually killed him. I was a bit sad when that happened. Actually, I was very sad.

Anyway…I had some great times in that place. I’ll never forget Mother’s Day 1989. Steve called me and asked if I wanted to come into the store that afternoon and jam with him and some other guy. Since it was mom’s day, I made sure she was cool with it and of course she was. So Steve, some tall red headed singer dude and I jammed for a few hours. Mostly to songs I had never heard. Older punk stuff I think. The only one I recognized and remember playing to this day is Under My thumb.

Sometime around that same year, Steve and Jeff were going to Hammerjacks in Baltimore to see Dave Chastain and offered to let me go. Hell yeah! I ended up having to bail the day of the show for something, I don’t remember what. I do remember calling Steve the next day to see how it went and he let me know that they never made it. Flipped the van or something like that.

Years later, Ghent was going through some redevelopment and the building Skinnies was in was slated for demolishing as a Walgreen’s was coming in. That was sad news but Steve persevered and found another location nearby.

Skinnies was always a cool place to hangout though. It still is. Steve and I became really good friends over the years. Helped him move twice and my back still suffers the ills of his fish tank and 1000 boxes of records! hahaha! I also got to see him get through some major medical issues and am happy as hell that things got back to “normal” so to speak. Not half as happy as him though, ya know?

I moved into the same neighborhood as the record store and even got to work there on Sundays for a little while. You don’t know how much I loved that and will always be grateful to him for the experience. When I decided to move to Texas, saying my goodbyes there 2 years ago was pretty difficult. I felt like I was leaving a major part of my life behind. In many ways I think I did, but not necessarily in a bad way.

So…all in all, just wanted to say thanks Steve. You and that store helped me get through the crazy 80s with some fine music and good people. You’re a good friend.

I’m really proud of you for getting thru the great record store crash that took out some of the other legendary stores in that area like Unicorn, Electric Smiles and The Music Man.

Skinnies Records website and Myspace.

Written by The Metal Files

August 26, 2008 at 1:22 am