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  • Writer's pictureBSchmidt

Setting Slime & Grime a Brutal Foundation; Live and Obey, Second Death, By Jeremy Johnson

Updated: Aug 10, 2019

Brian and I braved Omaha's icy Siberian hellscape for Slime & Grime's virginal show and interviews. Could not have asked for a more metal night.

It was like three fucking degrees and snowing when Brian and I left Taco Bell on 72nd and Dodge for Witherfang (Omaha), Second Death (Valdosta, Georgia), and Live and Obey (Omaha) at the Lookout Lounge, 72nd and Harney-ish. This was to be Slime & Grime’s first show-to-review. After some cinnamon twists and some peach whiskey, we were set to headbang and interview the night away.

Anchors were on the bill too (not the Melbourn ones, the Omaha ones… both bands kick substantial ass). This was to be Anchors’ (Omaha) last show, but they dropped last minute- so it goes.

First order of biz, we met up with one of Aorta Booking’s main guys, Josh Petersen, and communed over PBRs about music, other upcoming shows, and the nature of band-booking in general. (Josh will have his own interview up here eventually- the dude is rad as hell, damned kind, and knows his shit.)

The show warmed up with Witherfang- which was good, because God, we needed a warm-up. Jon Porter’s cinematic vocals soared over Anthony Flakus’ and Garrett Bymers’ volcanic riffs, Jordan Brook’s seismic bass walks, and Aaron Caswell’s unshakable drumming. For a new band, Witherfang really had their shit together. Their arrangements were sharp, their tone was specific (Groovy, heavy, with a fun tinge of 80s horror).

Witherfang started when Flakus (also of Live and Obey) asked his housemate, Garrett, if he and (also housemate) Aaron wanted to start a band that sounded like Ghost. And, sure, Witherfang has those exaggerated zombi-rific demon quivers woven sweetly into their sound, but, unlike Ghost, they’re as far from pop as you can get. They intentionally keep that underground grit mixed right in. Garrett was five years gone from Live and Obey, for whom he did vocals, so Witherfang was a go for him.

Jon Porter’s devilish crooning and hard-edged angle-heavy physique are a natural fit for the Witherfang tone. It’s one of those bands that looks exactly like they sound. Porter gets his vocal influences from Swedish metal wizards, Katatonia. Barkier influences include Lamb of God among others.

Witherfang recorded and mixed their EP, Causality, with Jeremy Schaeffer in SD in 2018. Jon will be singing his last Witherfang show with Entheos at the Lookout in April. (So any aspiring growl/crooners out there, get in touch!)

Next up, the floor came alive with flailing backfists for Second Death. The drummer of this band, is an incredibly skilled musician, without a doubt. Also of note, he has one of the best names in music… I’ll tell you what it is later. SUSPENSE!

Claxton and company had fun orchestrating the rage through their take-no-shit blast metal. Thematically, hold your own and fuck suicide were prevalent idioms. Although Brian and I do not particularly condone mosh karate (mosh-ra-tee?), if ever there was an appropriate occasion, this would be it.

Josh Claxton is a beast of a frontman. His roar is passionate, crackling with past emotional and physical agony, but fueled with a steadfast flame of perseverance. Claxton started playing in bands after clawing his way out of a drug-eaten trailer park plagued by his

Neuropathy and haunted by a friend's suicide.

Offstage the members of Second Death couldn't be more chill. So much so, I was compelled to inquire why they don't play in a smooth jazz band, more attuned to their countenance. Josh shook his head and mimed a guitar solo. His painful blood disease has obstructed his shreddier ambitions. Diehard metal disciple and Second Death guitarist, Randy, is perfectly content with the noise they make, as is co-shredder, Jeremy Brown, sporting an orange Jackson 8-string on lead. When asked what he's prone to listen to, the 21 year old took a pull from his two-liter of Squirt and softly said, “Meshuggah.”

The bassist, Clark, carried that classic Southern hospitality with him as he spread his charm to everyone around the merch table. His bass abilities also have a classical luster to them; clean, but brutally crunchy.

A huge shout-out to all the special ladies in the Second Death family for tolerating their long absences while on tour. It's a lot of unsung work keeping an artist grounded and often holding down a household solo. But it's invaluable to hear music to match what we feel and inspire us to persevere. So from the frozen Midwest, thank you, thank you, thank you.

The drummer's name… is Giovanni Pierre Casanova. Goddamn.

Keep an eye out for Second Death’s new EP, Dirtnap. They will be touring it with metalcore Virginians, Shame Spiral.

Anthony Flakus and Jordan Brooks took the stage once again to bring the night to an explosive close, this time with Booker on drums. Johnny Simon commanded the bass and Jake Shoening led the tried and true Omaha metal regulars known as Live and Obey with his viscous vocals. They played mainly unrecorded songs.

Despite being a seasoned act (genesis in 2012) Live and Obey only has one album recorded, Midwest Blood. It's a perfect debut album with impressive layering, creative mixing, and igniting lyrics. It’s a passionate album for the bottomed-out and hungry. It features local collaborators like Sean Sorensen, James Morgan, of omaha metalcore pioneers Superior, and of course, Live and Obey original, Garrett Bymers. Bymers hopped up on stage to growl out his part in Elegy, it was the tits.

Simon and Schoening met us in the green room to talk us through the history of Live and Obey. Metal is a perfect outlet for Jake as he is a behavior specialist in his professional life. Since the more collaborative efforts of maintaining a band are strained by time and distance, Live and Obey utilizes Dropbox and email to send lyrics, riffs, and beats to and fro.

Simon mentioned a time when Live and Obey had a show booked during a blackout day and were not technically permitted to play, so they took on an alter ego: Die and Comply. They went on stage gothed to the 9s (or 666s rather). Just to play. Because damn, these dudes love to play.

Flakus later sent us a comprehensive history of the band, as follows:

2012: 4 piece,Anthony, Garrett, Johnny, and a drummer named Michael Saenz. 2013: 5 piece, adding Jordan Brooks on guitar 2, lost Garrett and replaced him with Jake Schoening. 2014: 4 piece, lost drummer Michael Saenz to school, I switched to drums, Jordan handled guitar alone. Present: 4 piece, me and Jordan swapped positions no member addition or subtraction.

As we were wrapping up, Brian asked about Jake's hat, Altered Beast bold over the bill. Jake explained Altered Beast is a badass Sega Genesis game. Hell yes.

(That “Rise from your grave” bit is in the intro to The Last Podcast on the Left! The more you know.)

Every person we talked to that night was incredibly warm, inclusive, and accommodating. This was an ideal start to Slime & Grime. Here’s to many, many more nights just like this one. Bangovers be damned!

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