This week's best headline for both metal music and questionable performance art has to be the band Unfathomable Ruination signing on to play in a sealed cube until they run out of oxygen. There's really nothing context can add to this, except to note that João Onofre's "Box Sized Die" is an art project. The death metal band will enter what looks like a 6' x 6' cube, get sealed in, and then rock out until they literally run out of oxygen. At which point we guess they'll be let out, as they're scheduled to do this three times a week through the month of July in London. The best part: Viewers won't actually be able to see or hear the band but will be able to see the cube's vibrations as the performers slowly die inside.
This marks just another accomplishment in a genre that's filled with violent stage performances. Music Times gathered just a few of the more mainstream examples in metal and hard rock to rank in terms of madness, but many a basement show surely features even more absurdities. Please tell us about those in the comment section, but for now consider these "mainstream" examples.
05) Rammstein plays with fire
German metalheads Rammstein get frequent Nazi comparisons, which is totally bogus based on any real lyrical interpretation. It's just that Westerners get nervous when guys speak Deutsch in scary voices...and play with flamethrowers.
Name something on any performance stage, and Rammstein has figured out how to associate flames with it: "regular" flame launching devices on the ground, instruments shoot flames from their heads, fire fights using fireworks against the dudes on the special effects platform out in the crowd. As part of the stage, the band itself accepts that it too must be in flames at times (although keyboardist Christian "Flake" Lorenz seems to take an unfair brunt of the burning).
The reason this comes in last on the list is that most members of the band are certified pyrotechnics experts, you know, so they can responsibly cause infernos. Somewhat ironically, the only trouble the band's had while touring is when it simulated a totally clothed gay sex act on stage...which led to the arrest of vocalist Till Lindemann and Flake in Worcester, MS. Go figure.
04) Mark Lanegan angry, Mark Lanegan smash!
The Screaming Trees are by far the least hardcore band featured on this list. Those who aren't as deep into the grunge movement might recognize Mark Lanegan's soft, husky vocals in the background of Mad Season tracks. But we're talking a band comes about as close to classic rock chill as the grunge era offered, a band whose track "Sworn and Broken" could possibly play as a first dance at our wedding this year.
That doesn't stop a guy like Lanegan, who played football in high school, from flipping out when he's had a few beers and his sound equipment stops working as his band is trying to break at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark.
Smashing guitars and drum sets is almost hallmark for some bands, like The Who way back when. But eventually Pete Townshend realized the price of replacing Rickenbackers adds up. Plus at least those were his guitars. Lanegan however realized that Roskilde's equipment was to blame for his issues, so he tossed his mic stand into the crowd and began overturning stage monitors. The Danish crew attempted to dissuade him, leading to threats of fisticuffs. The rest of the Trees took to Lanegan's cause, smashing their own instruments as he went on to grab and knock over a very large (and very expensive) studio camera filming the event. The video below only shows the onstage action (fast forward to 7:30) because Lanegan presumably destroyed the $50,000 camera that was shooting it.
03) Society 1, like all bands, grabs our attention with its hooks
Yeah, except we're not talking about choruses here. We're talking about meat hooks. Looped through the skin of vocalist Matt Zane. While he dangles above the stage, singing for an entire set at the Download Festival.
Suspension is one of the few things we didn't experiment with during college, but our friend Buerhle told us that it's quite enjoyable. Zane must enjoy it as well or he's just totally brutal. Either way, he's much more metal than we are.
You can watch a video below where Zane fronts his band, dangling like a marionette, but we don't recommend it during lunch.
What's interesting is that Society 1's brand of "industrial metal" isn't nearly as hardcore as you would think from a vocalist who imitates fish bait, sounding like a mix between Static-X and Powerman 5000. Some acts such as Psyclon Nine or similar acts in the aggrotech subgenre really manage to milk the most violence from their fans.
02) Putting the "gore" in Gorgoroth
Spraying audiences with "blood" has always been popular, from KISS to Gwar. More excellent however is spraying the audience with actual blood.
Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth decided that when it shot a DVD of a live performance in Krakow, the band's normal corpsepaint makeup and shenanigans simply wouldn't do. So they went to the local butcher and got some sheep heads to be impaled on stakes for the stage. And, apparently Polish butchers will sell the blood of its products as well (why waste it?) Gorgoroth brought 80 liters. As in, 40 two-liters of Diet Coke, but blood instead. Imagine the Insane Clown Posse shaking that stuff up and launching it into the crowd. Even with all that blood there was still a significant amount of negative space in the back wall of the venue. So the band hired four models to hang nude on crucifixes throughout the concert because...yeah.
A police investigation ensued because law enforcement figured something about that scenario had to be illegal. Much like Rammstein, Gorgoroth got booked on the least obvious charges, being charged with "religious offence." Poland, having not been attacked by al-Qaeda recently, doesn't wonder if coating a public venue with sheep's blood might have a negative effect on one's health. The band got off the hook with no indictments because, literally, the court system decided it was okay because the group didn't realize what it was doing was illegal.
Gorgoroth had to hand over footage from the concert but it would later recreate the same exact scenario for the "Carving A Giant" music video.
01) Cregg Rondell escapes a death he definitely deserved
All the bands mentioned above have definitely proven themselves as more hardcore than us. Nothing, and we mean nothing, is more metal than putting yourself in a situation where there is little doubt that you will die. Hence how Cregg Rondell of Boy Hits Car topped this list and provided the most famous moment in the history of New York's K-Rockathon music festival.
Rondell, probably also in some state of intoxication, climbed a maintenance staircase and ambled atop a huge set of hanging speakers 70 feet above the stage. It should be noted that the vocalist had a history of stunt work but that seems irrelevant thanks to the total lack of safety mats at music festivals. The crowd, being a-holes, started chanting "jump." Not one to refuse peer pressure, Rondell flung himself from the rafters and landed in the photo pit.
He lived. And continued with the band's set after landing. If you watch the only known video of the incident below, you'll see the fans go nuts, without stopping to bother whether he was alive or not. Either way, they must've reckoned, that was awesome.
This only goes to painfully mock all those who've suffered much worse injuries from jumping much shorter heights.