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King Diamond Headlined Day One of Phil Anselmo's Housecore Horror Film Festival

Photo of Exodus

Band Photo: Exodus (?)

Philip H. Anselmo brought his third installment of his Housecore Horror Film Festival to San Antonio this year. Many hearts were heavy as this was the first festival that founder Corey Mitchell didn’t have his thumb under. Mitchell died at the end of last year’s festival.

The first two years were held at Emo’s and Midway Field house in Austin. This time the Aztec Theater and Korova hosted the metallic mayhem. Less than a block down the street the film festival occupied the 7th floor of the Holiday Inn San Antonio River Walk. The Korova is a few blocks further. All venues took place in San Antonio’s historic river walk district. When not accosting their ear drums with brutal metal, fans, especially those from out of state, took a stroll down the River Walk. Joel Grind from Toxic Holocaust was one of those fans in attendance.

Korova put the fest in motion on Thursday. The official HHFF kickoff party. I did not make it to this day, but some great bands deserve mention for playing. Some of these bands include the black metal of The Black Moriah, thrashers Aggravator, and purveyors of the Stockholm, Sweden sound, Black Breath. I did not make it to the Korova all the weekend. Friday’s show at the Korova started at noon and featured such acts as NOLA power violence group Fat Stupid Ugly People and black metallers Valdur. Korova’s show went on a long break after Hellshock and after King Diamond played the Aztec, Valdur ended the night at Korova.

The Aztec is a premiere concert venue. It boasts a huge stage, amazing lighting and sound system. The concert was general admission even in the balconies. There isn’t a bad spot in the whole venue as the floor has different levels to see above people’s heads and the balcony doesn’t have any nosebleed seats. The Aztec is a blockbuster production, but their prices reflect that. 16 ounce Lonestar beers cost nine dollars. I bought a premium Belgian-style beer, I believe it was a 16 ounce for fifteen dollars. That’s right, fifteen dollars for a beer. I could have bought a twelve pack for that price. Many fans spent most of their time at the Korova or in parking lots getting loaded just because they could drink for half the price as Aztec.

After an interview with Tom Hunting of Exodus, where on their bus I learned about the attacks on Paris, France, I caught Aztec openers Child Bite. Along with bands such as Dropdead, fellow Detroit natives Negative Approach, Poison Idea, and Cripple Bastards, Housecore recording artists Child Bite represented a large faction of punk bands that played the fest. Child Bite was the lone punk band on Friday, though, as all the others played on Saturday. Their post-punk, artsy sound never made much of an impression when I listened to their music at home, but I had a greater appreciation for the group after watching them live. They put on an energetic performance that got a strong crowd response.

Warbeast made their third appearance at HHFF. Not only is the band on Anselmo’s Housecore imprint, they hail from the Dallas/Fort Worth area so making the trip to Austin or San Antonio isn’t that taxing for the band. At Warbeast’s core are legendary Texas musicians Bruce Corbitt of Rigor Mortis and Scott Shelby of Gammacide. Joe Gonzalez of Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals and Superjoint Ritual manned the drums, while the group introduced two new members: Corbitt’s step-son Lyric Ferchaud played bass while Drew Shoup provided the other guitar. Led by Shelby’s speed picking, the group blazed through tracks from their two full-lengths “Krush the Enemy” and “Destroy” and their “War of the Gargantuas” EP playing the title track from the EP and such destructive tales as “Scorched Earth Policy” and “Birth of a Psycho.” It was pleasing to see Corbitt in good health screaming into his custom chain-link mic stand after undergoing heart surgery in August.

Eyehategod riff master Jimmy Bower pulled double duty, first taking the stage with Eyehategod. Then, he got a break during Exodus’ performance only to come out with the next band, Superjoint Ritual. Bower, in his trademark Western shirt, appeared in top form with both bands. When played in unison with Brian Patton’s six-string, the two created a monolith of swampy sludge. Singer Mike Williams appeared worn out with circles under his eyes, but none of that mattered once he stepped up to the microphone. He introduced the band and then a wall of feedback assaulted the ear drums of the audience. One of NOLA’s most infamous bands, Eyehategod put on a clinic of how to perfectly blend doom and hardcore.

Exodus singer Steve “Zetro” Souza loudly exclaimed “Everybody’s doing the Toxic Waltz” as the seminal thrash act played their mosh pit classic. Playing amidst “Blood In Blood Out” backdrops, the group was in fine form playing a set mired in material from their legendary “Bonded By Blood” debut. They opened with namesake track, the title track of said album and closed out their set with the infectious guitar chords of “Strike of the Beast.” “Impaler,” a song about Prince Dracula, was perhaps the oldest song in their set, one written by Kirk Hammett and appeared on their “Another Lesson in Violence” live album. The catchy chorus of “Blacklist” represented “Tempo of the Damned” material, the group’s return album in 2004 and the title track of the new album brought the crowd up to date. Lee Altus and Slayer’s Gary Holt were a dynamic tandem on guitar, while Tom Hunting kept the beat pummeling.

The boss of the festival, Phil Anselmo received a defining applause as he entered the stage with Superjoint. Drummer Joe Gonzalez played his second show of the night after hitting the skins for Warbeast. It had been just a brief few weeks since Superjoint performed in central Texas, but those who missed their show in Austin made sure to make their voice heard and get a pit going. Alcohol-and-weed fueled sludge and crossover proved a “Lethal Dose of American Hatred” as the band played crowd favorites like “Turning Point,” "Fuck Your Enemy" and “The Destruction of a Person.” The group brought up Dave Hill, "Metal Grasshopper" to play the guitar during "Fuck Your Enemy." Anselmo first sang "My Sharona." Anselmo also had the photographers in the pit to come up on stage and take a picture of the crowd. Anselmo’s raging voice proved why he is one of the best screamers in the biz. The band’s sludgy tones were so thick one could practically snatch them out of the air. It’s great to see this band active on the road again.

King Diamond made his third appearance of the year in Central Texas. This didn’t stop droves of fans from making their way to see metal’s spookiest front man. Besides, this tour was special since the King was to perform his 1987 classic album “Abigail” in its entirety. The second album of his solo career was by no means considered part of a sophomore slump. While the consensus seems to be that its follow up “Them,” is King’s best album, “Abigail” is not far behind. Two stair cases led to a platform that King and his wife, who portrayed characters in his songs, descended from. Inverted crosses hung on both sides of the platform and the stage was decked out with gargoyles. It was similar to their stage at Fun Fun Fun Festival, but at that show skulls were in place. The visual aspect is always an important facet of a King Diamond show and tonight was as good as any show. There were shades of the “Conspiracy” tour as he brought out a pine box for the intro to “Abigail,” “Funeral.” His wife came out as grandma during “Welcome Home” and played the part of a frightened Abigail, encountering spirits as she moved through the haunted house at night. King even pushed her down the stairs during “The 7th Day of July 1777.”

Set wise, King Diamond opened with other tracks before launching into “Abigail.” He opened with the usual “Welcome Home” and played “Sleepless Nights” and “Eye of the Witch” before playing an expected duo of Mercyful Fate tracks. However, instead of playing the usual “Come To the Sabbath,” he played the title track to “Melissa,” and hit every high note in this melodious classic. In past performances I felt King used to much vocal effects because he couldn’t reach his high tones. That wasn’t the case tonight. He sounded just like his albums. The “Abigail” songs has the perfect mix and the atmosphere was awe-inspiring. It was great hearing him play songs like “Arrival” and “The 7th Day of July 1777” for the first time. Andy LaRocque and Mike Wead’s trade off solos were simply amazing. King Diamond was a fitting punctuation to day one of this horror film festival.

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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