When Snorting Ants Ain't Crazy

Don't take Grandma to the International Extreme Music Festival

Is this what heavy metal has come to? Foul-mouthed exchanges between Iron Maiden's aging sextet and washed-up doper Ozzy Osbourne's hausfrau, Sharon, who spent the past couple of weeks publicly berating main Maiden Bruce Dickinson after allegedly pulling the plug on his band's final Ozzfest gig?

But just when you thought the genre was reduced to geriatrics getting their leather pants in a wad, along comes the first International Extreme Music Festivalto remind us all that heavy metal really is -- that's right -- extreme.

How extreme? Well, the following info wasn't in the official publicity materials for this traveling circus of death-, grind-, thrash-, power-, and anarcho-metal. But just check out what we hear these bands had to do to prove their, ahem, mettle for initiation into the IEMF:

God Dethroned is a band from the Netherlands, where just about anything goes, including radical bod-mod practices that make tongue piercing look like a Boy Scout merit badge requirement. The IEMF made God Dethroned the headliners when the band showed off its stage routine of trephinations and nullifications with rusty elastrators and burdizzos -- all completely unlicensed and while high on Quaaludes. Unfortunately, GD's skull surgery and limb removals with sheep-castration tools are off-limits at this week's show. Florida, apparently, has laws about these things.

Southern California's Manntis made the cut because it once led a Hale-Bopp/Heaven's Gate-styled murder-suicide cult. Broken up by Riverside County authorities before its planned apocalyptic orgy of Jim Jones margaritas and unprotected sex with UC Riverside coeds, the boys have now channeled their energies into a full-length titled Sleep in Your Grave. It's really loud.

The Swedes in Nightrage proved their "extreme" bona fides by burning down an Ikea store. We hear their stage-show pyrotechnics are awesome, if loosely wired.

Opening act Lilitu hails from Atlanta, Georgia, but the band convinced the IEMF that it has closer ties to the former Soviet state of the same name. After the band claimed to have endured Ludivico/MK-Ultra-styled conditioning by former KGB agents fomenting rebellion in the Caucusus nation, the IEMF figured the band's training on Kamov KA-50 attack choppers might actually come in handy during the tour.

Also on stage: Hell Within, Epoch of Unlight, and Thine Eyes Bleed. The Pink Flamingoes level of atrocities committed by these musicians is far too wide-ranging to reveal here, but extreme forms of sexual, culinary, and sartorial deviancy are well-represented.

This is how hardcore the IEMF is about its extreme cred: We hear that heavy/dark rockers Byzantine were nixed from the tour after it was discovered that members who claimed to be doing drive-bys with semi-automatics on assisted living facilities in West Virginia had in fact toured Italy as understudies of Topo Gigio's traveling puppet troupe. And that, thank the Devil, ain't extreme enough to grace this stage. -- Abel FolgarThe International Extreme Music Festival rolls into town at 7 p.m. Saturday, September 24, at the Culture Room 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $15. Call 954-564-1074.Sonic Surgery

There's a sign at my receptionist's desk that reads, "Kindly give 48 hours notice before canceling an appointment." It's the least a patient can do before moving the Botox fix until after the regatta. But when you're talking about shaggy guys idolized by the indie-rock intelligentsia, a scant two days' notice before canceling another kind of appointment -- a rock show -- is about as convenient as a kidney stone.

After nixing its August 8 show at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach, Brian Jonestown Massacre also called off its makeup gig scheduled for this Friday. But what concerns me more than this troubling record for recklessness is something far more annoying than its latest no-show: Lead vocalist and resident Jim Jones wannabe Anton Newcombe has been seriously misdiagnosed.

Based on the flimsiest of evidence, some suspect practitioners have declared that Newcombe's brain operates at genius level. After the release of Dig!, a documentary that showed Newcombe preening with a classic case of clinical narcissism, rock journalists got their charts upside-down and pronounced Newcombe a rock 'n' roll messiah. Unfortunately, feeding such an ego is like telling an anorexic that she could stand to lose a few pounds.

Critical confusion no doubt was based on the flawed hypothesis that equates experimentation with good songwriting. But would you trust an experimentalist to take out your appendix? Didn't think so. Imagine coming to me with a sore throat and instead of prescribing cough syrup, I randomly rearranged your vital organs, hoping the results would be favorable. If I got lucky and you got cured, would that make me a genius?

It's time my musical colleagues stop being so gullible every time an avant-gardist trashes a stage, fires his band, or releases a slew of half-baked, retro-leaning albums. Under normal circumstances, Newcombe's latest bout of flaky behavior would lead critics to realize that, hey, maybe this guy's just your average crybaby rock star. But it's too late -- they already drank the Kool-Aid.

Findings: Findings? Shit, any clue as to Newcombe's whereabouts would be a start. Diagnosis: Kool-Aid poisoning. Treatment:How about showing up next time you book a tour, Anton? Oh, and if anyone's suddenly free this Friday night, my appointment schedule is wide open. And I make housecalls. -- Doc Le Roc

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