Conversations with Greg D. (Part 1?)

You guys remember Greg DiPasquale and Brian Pattison, right? As scene veterans and frequent contributors to this webzine, when they pitched me the idea of turning their typical metal talks into a column, I wasn’t going to say no. So, without further ado, I’m going to let two local kings of steel shoot the proverbial shit about some bands that came and went during some “Glorious Times”. See what I did there? – Mike Marlinski

Greg DiPasquale
There’s been two eras in Buffalo where metal was fairly prominent, when did it first come onto your radar, and when/why do you think the first era died out? When/why did you notice a new era beginning?

Brian Pattison
Though I wasn’t always consciously aware of a scene here I knew of local bands like Talas going back to the early 1980s. By the mid ’80s I was a regular listener of the metal show on WBNY. First, it was Major Al (Baker) then Psycho (Mark Abramson). Those guys were fully involved in the local scene, so they would often play demos from local bands like Tirant Sin, Leviathan, Malevolent Creation (a WNY band at first) and Beyond Death, The River Rock Café hosted many of the shows and those too big would often go to things like an Elk Lodge or something of that ilk. At some point in ’89, The Skyroom (a predominantly country bar at that point) started hosting more metal events. Artie (Funtime Presents) would bring larger shows there and the club itself began hosting all local shows and sometimes other larger acts. With 2 solid venues for metal here, the bands flourished. Bands supported each other and would draw crowds from different parts of the city. Cannibal Corpse and Baphomet rose to the top but the “2nd tier” acts were all really good too, bands like Atrosity, Shroud, Attakk, Terminal Grace, Inner Sanctum, Immortal Terror, Grotesque Infection, Divination, Monarch, Humongous, a new lineup of Beyond Death and a few others. In 1990, the River Rock Café closed and that hurt the scene a little as it seemed to take away the people from Riverside who went to shows. In ’91, The Skyroom closed and that hurt really bad. In a short span, Buffalo had lost its 2 key homes for metal. The scene didn’t die right away though. For a bit things moved around…. The Horseshoe, The Scrapyard, The Theatre of Death,… all good venues but none quite the home for metal that the River Rock and Skyroom were. In those early to mid years of the ’90s, Cannibal Corpse moved to Florida, Shroud moved to Pittsburgh, Baphomet changed to Banished, then broke up, and really life just happened for a lot of us and the glory days came to an end.

I’m not sure if I really noticed a new era beginning, but a few things happened around 2010 that seemed to add a spark here. Seplophile and Cain formed, Hellcannon and Hubris began to make some noise. The Funeral Home began allowing more metal shows which was crucial to giving any life to a scene here, at a time when venues were way overcharging. As for how I became aware of a new beginning, it was a combination of a few things. In 2009, Alan Moses and I put out the first edition of Glorious Times which included a few Buffalo bands from the old days. In doing that I became reconnected with Dennis John on Facebook and one day in late 2009, I saw Den making posts about a metal show (with Hellcannon) at the Tudor Lounge so I figured I’d check it out. Of the bands that played that night, Hellcannon showed the most promise, but it wasn’t enough to attract me to get involved again. Then, a few months later, I was just glancing through MySpace and I stumbled upon a band named Morax from Buffalo. They were a part of the punk scene, but I totally loved their sound. I happened to see that they were playing a basement show (with Hellcannon) so I contacted Morax (Kylee was the one who answered) about the show. I went to that show and was blown away by Morax and Hoglust, both punk type bands,  but heavy and fast. After that, I decided to check out more local shows. A few bands broke up, a few more formed and things just seemed to snowball.

You’ve been around long enough to see ups and downs in b=Buffalo, was there a moment when you thought things were on the rise again?

Greg DiPasquale
For sure. Buffalo had always been prominent in the hardcore scene, so that was usually “up”, but the metal scene hasn’t been as lucky. It was a desolate road most bands traveled alone for a very long time here. The closest we came was what could be called the metalcore/deathcore/whatevercore explosion from 2003-2007, but that was still very rooted in the hardcore scene to a large degree. About 2008-2009 though I had noticed bands like Hellcannon and Hubris popping up and it was nice to see some fresh blood. Shortly thereafter, around late 09-early 2010, Seplophile, Cain, Grave Descent and Pig Rectum popped up. Couple that with The Funeral Home, you getting back in the game promoting and putting out a book, and boom we had a metal scene again.

Brian Pattison
My impact I think is very much overstated. Timing was right. Buffalo just happened to have this influx of really good bands at that moment. If the bands had sucked it wouldn’t have mattered at all if I started promoting again and just as true with the quality of bands that came in if it wasn’t me promoting things, it would have been someone else. Maybe more underground shows wouldn’t have happened, but the quality of bands here still would have been enough to get the scene going, especially in 2011-2013, when the bands seemed to support each other a bit more than they did before and after that time period.

You’re an outspoken fan of what you call the second tier of Buffalo bands from the old days, particularly acts like Eternal Torment and Grotesque Infection. Any other acts from that era that you’ve discovered and like? Why should younger generations go back to their regions roots and check out early bands?

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Greg DiPasquale
I use the term “second tier” almost reluctantly, as it’s only 2nd tier in terms of success/awareness compared to Cannibal/Malevolent/Baphomet (you could even argue including Malevolent in there, since they weren’t in Buffalo for long before they left for Florida, but I digress), but definitely not 2nd tier in quality. Besides, Eternal Torment and Grotesque Infection though, some other groups that I’d HIGHLY recommend digging up are: Organism, Carnal Dissection, Obscurity, Divination, and though they’re more on the grindcore side of things, Avulsion (who’ve been active in varying degrees since 1993). I’d say if you’re interested in peeling back the layers of the brutal Buffalo underground, those 7 bands are MANDATORY!

It does seem like back then, scenes kinda fed each other instead of just themselves.

Brian Pattison
When the River Rock and Skyroom were both going, is when the scene was the best. Most would go to both clubs for shows, but there were Riverside/Black Rock kids who would only go to the River Rock and there were South Buffalo kids who would only go to the Skyroom. River Rock had more mixed shows too, live every Halloween, this gal Melody, would put on a cool one, usually Mayhemesis or Putrefest along with a punk band a hardcore band and a thrash band. At the Skyroom, it tended to be just metal or just hardcore.

Greg DiPasquale
If metal hadn’t bottomed out so horribly here it maybe could’ve stayed that way.
Hardcore had no real equally tough metal scene to bounce off of anymore it seems, post ’94-’95. Here, at least.

Brian Pattison
Losing the 2 big clubs hurt. Then, bands leaving/breaking up hurt more, so by ’93 the metal scene was a shell at best. Like now though, metal seemed to be the older crowd and hardcore was mainly kids a few years younger, so by ’93, the metal guys were all at or approaching mid ’20s and moving on with jobs and families. The hardcore crowd was still largely in their early ’20s and not yet moving on to careers/life, so it seemed to last a bit longer. Both scenes having really good bands was nice. Bands of both scenes had devoted followings and because there were mixed shows, fans of each genre got exposed to more quality of the other genre, so it was more commonplace to see metalheads at hardcore shows and vice versa. Not every show was mixed of course, but mixed shows did happen regularly. Probably helped a little when you had Darrin from Beyond Death also drumming in Zero Tolerance, so you had a guy that both scenes liked and called them their own, but he was a big part of both scenes.

Greg DiPasquale
What was weird to me was some of the death metal guys getting into the nu metal thing. I’m sure it made sense at the time, since that was viewed as the next new way of being heavy, but in retrospect, it is such a neutered, tamer style of music compared to what they came up with. I just don’t see the appeal.

Brian Pattison
Never got that appeal. But I thought Pantera sucked (thought Exhorder sucked too) never got into bands like Korn but in them could hear a sort of transition from bands like Prong. Nu metal thrived because it took a portion of the real metal crowd, a portion of the hardcore crowd, but was also able to bring more hardrock mainstream people, because it was watered down, trend friendly stuff. I never understood why any death metal guy would go for nu metal, but I was just confused around 1990 when kids started moshing at alternative rock concerts.

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Greg DiPasquale
I mean, if they were trying to bandwagon hop to make careers out of it, I guess it makes sense, but it’s still gross. And I’m not even talking Pantera, because at least that had a speed element and musicianship. I’m talking jumping on the Korn/Limp Bizkit sound.

Brian Pattison
I know. But Pantera was the start of that. A watered down version, more mainstream friendly for people who weren’t necessarily into metal, but wanted to appear that they were. Korn and Limp Bizkit and such were just the next progression from that.

Greg DiPasquale
Yes and no. By the time they started really picking up steam in 1992 they were muuuuuch heavier, faster and aggressive than the 3/4 of the big 4 were at the time. That was when Metallica and Megadeth were head and shoulders the two biggest metal bands in the world and had crossed over into the mainstream. What DID happen was people took the musicianship out of the Pantera equation, took their slow riffs and created what came next.

Brian Pattison
Having been there at those times, I would disagree. They had become more known but never thought they became heavier or more aggressive. Same stale crap all the way through. Metallica certainly went mainstream, but they were largely headed that way by ’88 anyway.

Greg DiPasquale
I think bands like Biohazard, and Dog Eat Dog had much more of a hand in the nu metal thing. Pantera did too, but weirdly enough, they also had a hand in pulling metal out of that phase into the metalcore phase as well.

Pantera

Brian Pattison
Same people that liked Pantera were the ones to move onto nu metal, because it was a fan base largely of people that weren’t really metal but wanted to say they were. The fringe people, the borderline mainstream people who wanted something heavier than the grunge bands who had taken over the mainstream, but at the same time they didn’t dig metal enough to get into the truly heavy stuff. Yeah, it served a purpose as some of the kids who were young that discovered Pantera then looked for heavier stuff, so you take the good with the bad…

They made nu metal possible, but they did get a small portion of their fan base to delve deeper into heavier music.

Greg DiPasquale
That’s fair. But I think it was a much larger portion of fans than you think that they pushed onward.

Brian Pattison
It’s probably more than I think, but less than you think

Greg DiPasquale
Hahaha
You saw a few shows from let’s say, ’89-’92. What’s your top 5 (besides A Day of Death)?
Your top 5 favorite shows from the most recent wave?

Brian Pattison
Yeah. I saw a couple of shows in that time period. Top 5 would be tough, I’d likely name a different 5 each time I’m asked. For today’s answer and in no order I’d say :

1. Aug. 11, 1990 Michigan Deathfest in Jackson, Michigan – Morbid Angel, Sacrifice, Nuclear Death, Deceased, Baphomet, Fatal and Lucifer’s Hammer. All great bands. First time seeing Deceased. Met a bunch of people. Crossed a picket line to see the show.

2. I believe April 27, 1990 at the River Rock Cafe – Killing Time, Sick Of It All, Judge and Zero Tolerance. Packed club. Wall to wall people. Started the show at the front of the stage. Ended up being on stage for the entire sets of Sick Of It All and Killing Time.

3. Feb. 1990 The Odyssey in Belle Vernon, PA. Immolation, Revenant, Bathym and Baphomet. My first underground show outside of buffalo. Met a ton of Pittsburgh people and a few from NYC that I had as pen pals or tape traded with.

4. April (I think) 1989 at the River Rock Cafe – The Accused, The Brotherhood, No Alibi and Cannibal Corpse. The Accused were incredible live. Blaine has to be one of the best frontmen of all time.

5. May 25, 1990 at The Skyroom. Morbid Angel, Ripping Corpse, Immolation, Revenant and Baphomet. Lineup was as good as you’d imagine it to be for those acts in 1990.

Top 5 of the recent era is tough as well. Bar none the number 1 for me is July 2013 at The Forvm- Derketa, Rottrevore, Embalmer and Darkapathy. The other shows in no particular order.

2. Jan. 2012 Metal for Tony. Beyond Death, Tirant Sin, Terminal Grace and others. A night of amazing performances and Buffalo showing what it’s capable of to help one of its own.

3. 2011 Nunslaughter at the Funeral Home. Great performances and a moment that seemed to revitalize Buffalo.

4. July 2012 Deceased, Abysme, Seplophile and Ritual Quarantine at the Funeral Home. A million degrees. Emotional return for Ritual Quarantine. Awesome sets from Seplophile and Abysme. Killer set from Deceased with King returning to drums for the final time live.

5. Jan. 2011 at the smiling moose in pittsburgh. Nunslaughter, Abysme and Derketa. Sold out show. Derketa’s first ever gig, a moment many of us had been waiting for since 1989.

Greg DiPasquale
I’m lucky to have been at 4 of those, and I can second their excellence.

Brian Pattison
Your favorite venue for shows in the modern era – Club Infinity, The Forvm, The Funeral Home, Broadway Joe’s, Tudor Lounge, Club Diablo, Moose Lodge, Stamps, Sugar City, Polish Library, Waiting Room, Town Ballroom, Evening Star, The Lair…

Greg DiPasquale
That’s easy, The Funeral Home. Bar none. Lots of venues have come and gone in my time, the only one I miss is The Funeral Home. I’m actually working on a piece about The Funeral Home right now to describe my memories of that place.

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Brian Pattison
Excluding Eternal Torment, which Buffalo band from the old era would you most like to see?

Greg DiPasquale
As far as an old era band I’d like to see, besides Eternal Torment and the other few I had mentioned, I don’t think I can really pick one, but if I could go back in time to the early ’90s, I’d really like to see either Baphomet or Zero Tolerance, but together preferably. Because both bands had really tough sounds, I’d imagine a show with them back in the day would’ve been completely insane.

Fin.

So, now that we got all that into our systems, there are a few bands I’m going to give shoutouts to again with these two gentlemen in mind. Greg rips up death metal guitar in Seplophile and Brian grinds some serious fretboard action in Anthropic. You should probably visit both of their Facebooks and give them each a like, since you took the time to read all this and all. Anyways, thanks for checking this out. You may or may not have noticed the question mark in the title which implies uncertainty as to whether or not this column will continue. Well, fear not, citizens! We can assure you it most certainly will. Take care for now! – Mike Marlinski

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