Thrash, doom, and grind combined forces into one hell of a metal fest at the Regent for Show Your Scars 2019. There was this special feeling in the air, a true coming together of the underground. On the 2nd floor, metal vendors sold their wares to merch-hungry metalheads drooling over everything from Sodom back patches to Bolt Thrower flags, one of which I bought myself. Meanwhile, on the bottom floor, so long as their was live music there was violence, beer, sweat, and good times.
For so early in 2019, this lineup was almost too good to exist. Featuring the likes of Iron Reagan, Low Life (really Cryptic Slaughter), and of course England’s original grindcore kings and innovators of melodic death, Carcass; this was a good sign for the trajectory of the year. This was also going to be my first time seeing Carcass live and as a fan of their music since I was a kid, I could barely contain my excitement to see all the gory visuals and hear “Keep on Rotting in the Free World”.
The festival began with one of the band’s on our top 25 artists to watch in 2019, so right out of the gate in 2019, Yidhra made a splash. With heavy, desert doom riffs and liquifying theramin manipulation, the band took the Regent on quite a trip. They might not have been as fast as the rest of the bands on the bill but they were certainly among the heaviest.
Final Conflict brought the hardcore punk element to the stage and really pressed the button on the political pressure the average metal head is being forced to live under these days. There’s no more being cynical about politics at shows, the presence is too real to laugh it off, at least not at Final Conflict’s. The guitars and vocals ripped and the audience was rowdily floated all over the place, giving these Long Beach legends the reception they deserve.
As far as I’m concerned, Excel played the best and most energetic set of the night. As soon as they got on stage, singer Dan Clements introduced the band with “You know where we’re from…”. From there, the set drove straight into crossover pandemonium. There wasn’t a moment that the audience wasn’t present on stage. This was the purest form of Venice Beach, West Side crossover thrash metal you could ever hear. It’s funny, Excel reunited a few years ago and though they were a classic band to LA metalheads, they fizzled out before they hit really big. Still though, the set and their reception were so good they became impossible to follow.
Much to Iron Reagan‘s dismay, the audience was a little moshed-out by the time they took the stage. What one would expect to be the most insane set of the evening had a little trouble picking up steam at first. This much needed moment to breathe didn’t last forever though, once the energy and comedy got into full swing and the band delivered notable bangers like “Fuck the Neighbors” or “Your Kid’s An Asshole”, the audience connected and slammed with impressive vigor.
Originally, Show Your Scars had billed Low Life under the name of the band they truly are, Cryptic Slaughter. After some legal pressure put on by members of CS that shouldn’t rightfully own the name, the banner had to be changed to read Low Life. Made up of original CS members, Les and Scotty, Low Life had one of the fastest, most brutal and unforgiving thrash metal sets I had ever seen, let alone of the evening. Cryptic Slaughter’s songs were unrelenting and just as fast as they were crunch, heavy, and full of rage. By the end of the set, Les and Scotty told us this band will always truly be Cryptic Slaughter and in that moment, Low Life hit a real, emotional string in the audience that made us all fans for life.
The first image projected behind Carcass was a rotting corpse’s dick. The pioneering duo of guitarist Bill Steer and bassist/vocalist Jeff Walker graced stage to a visceral wave of rabid cheer. Immediately, the grind began, like stuffing the Regent down a meat grinder. A collage of mutilated body parts sewn together in horrific randomness projected behind them. These were the images that originally separated grindcore and Carcass from the rest of the bands and genres in the metal universe. This was the first band to really be disgusting and gruesome. It’s one thing to sing about murder, it’s another to show a bleeding, rotting corpse covered in shit. For all the insanity brought out in the fans during the earlier sets, Carcass made us act rather reserved in comparison. Their sound doesn’t inspire moshing as much as awe, it’s about watching their incredible musicianship craft songs you love. There were notes of 70s rock and roll that you could sense beneath the grindcore and death metal. Especially out of Bill Steer who might secretly wish he was in a psych rock band. They played a long set that spanned their entire career, playing all the hits including “Heartwork”, “Black Star”, and “No Love Lost”.
Words by: Rob Shepyer
Photos by: Dillon Vaughn