The kid with the fluorescent green hair can't be much older than 8. He's wearing a shirt with a design that resembles the Heineken logo, but is modified to proclaim his love of Anal Blast, the band that's just pulled him onstage. Singer Don Decker asks the kid, "What's the name of your band, son?"
"Limbless Torso!" the kid shouts into the mic.
"And what was the name of the song you wanted to hear?" Decker prompts.
The kid grabs the mic and growls out, "High on Cunt Blood!"
As Anal Blast explodes into the song — a short, fast, and extremely heavy grindcore number that sounds like minions of screaming demons riding chainsaws through a metal scrapyard — the kid jumps back into the crowd. People start running in circles, pushing and slamming into each other.
I am shocked.
The music doesn't bother me — I like it hard and heavy. I'm not fazed by Anal Blast's subject matter, which focuses on menstruation and sadistically celebrates the female cycle through songs like "My First Period," "Tampon Tea Bag," and "Bloody Brown Mouse." Decker's stage banter about sucking on dirty tampons he dug out of the trash and cutting up a woman's nether regions to simulate menstruation makes me laugh.
No, the one thing that disturbs me is an elementary school kid from Tucson in a grindcore band called Limbless Torso, running around enthusiastically using the word "cunt." (I later learned that the kid's name is Gabriel, he's the drummer for Limbless Torso, and the band's first show — on May 19, 2006 — was also a celebration of his 9th birthday, so as of this writing, he's a ripe 10.)
My buddy B-Boy invited me to check out this show with him, as it's the last Phoenix gig Anal Blast will play, because Decker is dying of liver disease. I had no idea how seriously (or not) the guys in Anal Blast took themselves when I arrived at Metal Devastation on Bell Road for the show. But I will say that B-Boy and I are both huge fans of late punk pariah G.G. Allin, whose stage shows — which included everything from defecating onstage and eating it to receiving a blowjob from his brother — are still the most sickeningly sincere live spectacles in the history of music. I also served as part of cartoonish splatter metal band GWAR's stage show on its 1994 tour (I was one of the girls that was fed to the foam-rubber "worm maggot" under the band's drum kit), so I've seen the jokier side of the extreme music spectrum, too.
B-Boy is equally hard to offend. He used to sing for a local hardcore punk band called Cancer of the Piss. A mountain of a man, B-Boy's performances included slicing his forehead with razor blades and bleeding all over his white T-shirts. Once, he used an extra-long microphone cord and ran out of the venue to sing in the middle of the street for oncoming cars, which honked with surprise at the large, bloody bald man screaming and dancing in traffic.
So we're intrigued by Anal Blast, a "porn grind band" that's been making brutal metal music with album titles like Vaginal Vempire and Battered Bleeding Bitch since 1994. I learn that Decker originally formed the band in 1994 in Des Moines, Iowa, and that Anal Blast's original lineup was Decker and three guys who are now in Slipknot — Joey Jordison, Donnie Steele, and Paul Gray. In addition to fronting Anal Blast, Decker has also booked acts for the annual Milwaukee Metal Fest since 1987 and runs his own label, Nightfall Records. He also owned a record store called Inferno in Anal Blast's hometown of Minneapolis.
The band clearly has its fans here tonight at Metal Devastation. The record store/music venue is a garden of damnable delights for fans of extreme metal — it has T-shirts for almost any metal band you can think of, along with bins of CDs, skull sculptures, and even a cabinet of spell and hex potions. And because the shop doesn't sell alcohol and sits in an unassuming strip mall next to a fitness center, the shows here are all ages.
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The audience consists of about 70 people (at least a dozen of whom look to be well under the age of 21), and the male-to-female ratio is about 5 to 1. Because there are minors present, Anal Blast has to forgo its usual "audience participation," in which a local female gets onstage and, uh, gives a deep, personal performance with the microphone.
But Anal Blast is still capable of corruption. That much is made obvious by the presence of 10-year-old Gabriel, and the fact that he's professing his love for a song about menstruating, something most girls his age haven't even started doing yet. While Anal Blast is in the middle of its lurching, burping, breakneck-speed musical assault, B-Boy and I watch Gabriel in the pit. He's running and shoving people, raising his fists in the air, and growling along to the song "Diarretic Orgasm."
As we're leaving, B-Boy and I morbidly wonder what that kid is gonna be like in 20 years. There is also a sense of depression in the air, as if we know we are now the old extreme. We who have bled in the streets, rejoiced in feces-slinging singers, and been thrown into the gnashing mouths of foam rubber maggots — all in the name of extreme music — are the new "mature" maniacs, shaking our heads in shock at a frigging fifth-grader.
I believe it's true what they say — "metal will never die." I've seen the next generation, and it's screaming for blood. It can only get more hardcore from here.