Random Memories of Trevor

It had to be sometime in early 2003. I was on a bus heading home, and, while I still had probably fifteen more minutes before I reached my destination, I pulled out the latest issue of Revolver Magazine from my backpack. If memory serves me correctly, the magazine included a one-page section highlighting recommended up-and-coming bands. There were three bands, one definitely was Himsa (fucking absolute vomit!), and the only other band I remembered was some band called The Black Dahlia Murder, whose music the magazine categorized as “Megadeth Metal”.

That’s not a joke.

Time would go on and a whole year and a half would pass before I finally came across Unhallowed, The Black Dahlia Murder’s 2003 debut album, probably in Sam Goody. I remember that this was also the same day that I bought the very denim jacket that I’d cut the sleeves off of to make a vest out of.

Unrelated note: Don’t ever use the term “Battle Jacket” to describe your denim vest with patches and buttons and spikes on it. Or go ahead and do so and be as retarded as everyone else that uses the fucking stupid term.

Anyway, my dad drove me home, as I still didn’t have a car yet. I opened up Unhallowed and looked at the cover. What’s in a name? What’s in a cover image? In the early days of mp3 downloading and, with a whole decade to go before Spotify existed, I still bought CDs, and still do so to this day. Therefore, the only way to find out what any band sounded like, was to either download a track or two, or to simply BUY the album. I popped the album into my five-disc changer and the following two tracks fucked me up.

The music in this video is actually the opening instrumental title track to the record and it breaks right into “Funeral Thirst”, so it made sense to just post the video instead of two separate links of any kind.

Either way, upon hearing those two tracks now I remember EXACTLY what stood out to me those most. The music alone was not just balls-out heavy, but those minor chord harmonies happened to make me feel every single negative emotion I ever knew or felt in my entire life. I wanted to cry, I wanted to die, I wanted to choke anyone I could get my hands on. It was hopeless. It was beautiful.

Then I heard that fucking voice. It was like nothing I had heard at the time. It was a hell of a lot more screetchy than most Death Metal bands I’d heard, with the sole exception of Chuck’s vocals on The Sound of Perseverance, Death’s last record. He hit the traditional guttural style as well and I realized that he was using the two styles for the sake of a dynamic that was not there at the time. It changed things up in all the songs and it fucking made things far more exciting.

Clearly whoever described this band as “Megadeth Metal” in Revolver Magazine a year earlier must’ve been either high or just absolutely clueless. The Black Dahlia Murder, especially as made evident in their latter-day releases were more like the greatest Carcass disciples you’ve ever heard!

This was just the beginning of a long ride for the band for the better part of two decades, two decades that would especially see Trevor Strnad standout among the traditional Death Metal frontman stereotype. As serious as he was in the video posted above, his sense of fun and humor would become FAR more prevalent not just in the videos the band would make in the coming years, but in his persona onstage. The best thing about it all was Trevor manage to balance this act out to the point that his goofiness NEVER took away from the band’s or his onstage intensity. He never took himself seriously and that connected with all of us because we knew it was genuine.

But to be clear, his lyrics were as Death Metal, and as brutal as it got. He’s a line or two from “Christ Deformed”, one of my ALL TIME favorite TBDM tracks:

Diabolic ritual open the portal to damnation
Dark legions gathering for virtuous insemination
Molest and sodomize deride the seed of god’s creation
Impale the Nazarene succumb to a spiritual inversion

In our unholy father’s disgusting house of shame
We revel in endless hatred burning so absolute
Corrupting all who’d enter here surrender to darkness
We kneel to those no more who’d burden and beguilt

Within these wretched walls a summoning proceeds
What form will manifest of this abysmal devilry
The children now are bleeding, we eunuchate his sons
To evil blood and fire this earth will soon succumb
With hell reborn
Your Christ be scorned
Dead faith now torn
His love deformed

That’s why I intentionally waited before I wrote this piece. It was hard to let sink in, that not only is Trevor gone, but to think about how it just might’ve happened. But much like with my tribute to Chris Cornell, I will NOT discuss what happened. Enough people have written about that, and we still haven’t a clue as to the whole story. But I, like most fans of The Black Dahlia Murder, have memories of meeting Trevor and even talking with him at length. Things like this, along with his ability to ACTUALLY HAVE FUN are truly why he’s the single most important Death Metal frontman in DECADES. While my memories aren’t as amazing as others, they meant something to me then, and they without question mean something to me now. So, I’ll share them.

It was the summer of 2006, and I traveled with two friends (one of which eventually got what was coming to him via a heart attack) to the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ for the Sounds of The Underground Tour, which included The Black Dahlia Murder, GWAR, Behemoth (and you bet your ass I met Nergal on this day!) and several others. I walked by TBDM’s merch table when I noticed a tall, flabby looking guy with a tattoo that read “HEARTBURN” across his belly. It was Trevor. I walked up to him and introduced myself when he replied, “talk a walk with me for a second”.

“Do me a favor, will ya?”, he asked me, as we walked. “We’re shooting a video for “Statutory Ape” today, and I need you and everybody else in that crowd to go fuckin’ crazy. Can you do that for me?” “Fuck yeah!” I immediately said. Hours later, the band walked on stage and Trevor immediately called out the entire crowd “C’MON YOU PUSSIES!!!!”, as they grinded out “I’m Charming” off Miasma, the same record that includes “Statutory Ape”. Sorry to say that no, I wasn’t crazy enough to be a part of that pit, but once Trevor called them out all bets were off.

My last memory didn’t involve a request to sacrifice myself in the pit, no. I traveled to the now defunct B.B. King’s in Times Square, New York Shitty (I said what I said), to see TBDM along with Hate Eternal and 3 inches Of Blood in January 2008. There might have been one other band on the bill, but I forgot who it was. Anyway, my friends and I arrived at B.B.’s and almost immediately I spotted Trevor at the bar. He looked a lot like he did two years prior, funny looking shorts, topless, hair all disheveled. I walked up to him again and he laughed as we reminisced over our previous meeting.

We parted ways after that, and he eventually found his way backstage. But what I always remembered about both those times was that he made himself accessible. It’s a story we’d ALL go on to hear about him over the years. He always hung out with the fans. Upon moving to Brooklyn (and I’ve to this day no idea why he’d do that to himself!), he apparently hung out at St. Vitus on the regular and would support the local bands and talk with everybody there. He even wrote a column for Metal Injection where he’d recommend underground Extreme Metal bands.

I don’t know many other frontmen of legend status like Trevor’s who’d do all those things. We might not ever completely know what happened to the charismatic (that word doesn’t even do it justice!) frontman of THE single most important Death Metal band of this century so far. But he left an UNDENIABLE mark that can never be removed. There will never be another frontman as genuine as Trevor Strnad.

RIP Trevor Strnad 1981 – 2022

Municipal Waste – Slime And Punishment

I really wasn’t sure if Municipal Waste were ever going to pull it off; but what they released just over month ago, Slime And Punishment, is truly the album we’ve been waiting for.  It’s been five years since they released their Nuclear Blast Records debut, The Fatal Feast, a bit of a musical departure from the usual Thrash/Party Metal they’re legendary for at this point, to more of a Crossover type sound.  I wasn’t bad but neither that or the album before it, 2009’s Massive Aggressive, could EVER amount to their 2007 masterpiece, The Art Of Partying.  Hell, upon listen to Massive again while getting ready for this review I remembered why I stopped listening to it after three spins tops (maybe even just one!) – they were trying to hard to top The Art Of Partying.  You could barely hear the drums, and it felt like Tony Foresta struggled horribly with keeping up with the tempos.  Same unfortunately goes with Ryan Waste.  He couldn’t speed pick fast enough to keep up with the rhythm section for shit.

So what a huge shock it was when they dropped their first single of the new album, “Amateur Sketch”, back in April.  It was faster than a lot of The Fatal Feast.  But not only that, but the intensity was back and everything, guitars especially, was so much louder and so much sharper.  When mixing an album it’s so important that everything can be heard no matter what.  But one track doesn’t mean shit after a five year absence.  So I waited then I heard the title track, released a month later.  I wasn’t fast but it hit just as hard.  It was more old school Metal than Thrash but it was quick, catchy and did the trick.  I was sold and bought the record a week after it was released.

“Breath Grease” kicks this one off with a real BANG!  No slow, prodding intros, no instrumentals, just straight into a fast tempo song, which leads into “Enjoy The Night”, which sees the pace kicked up even faster…as if to say “good luck banging your head to this without snapping it!”. Upon hearing most of this album two things come to mind: the addition of Nick Poulos as a second guitarist was the smartest decision the band made last year, and the band as a whole clearly realized that it’s better to let the music come naturally, as opposed to forcing themselves to play a specific style.  The results are that of a band that sounds absolutely refreshed; just all of the things they’re good at and nothing they can’t do.

The one thing I’m really impressed with on Slime And Punishment is the incredibly high pitch in Tony Foresta’s vocal approach.  If you’ve paid attention to him outside of Waste then you know that this is the exact approach he’d been using with his other band, Iron Reagan.  But for this collection of songs he without a doubt NEEDED to go this high.  Especially on tracks likes the balls to the wall “Bourbon Discipline” and “Parole Violators” (featuring Vinnie Stigma of Agnostic Front), where he screams out “fuck you man!”, it’s as if he’s legitimately living out the audio party as it’s happening!

As mentioned earlier, hiring a second guitarist had to literally be THE smartest decision the band made recently.  Sure, even with one guitarist you can track as many guitars on a recording as you can.  But with two guitarists comes an extra set of ideas.  It’s readily apparent on “Poison The Preacher”, one of the way more serious tracks here, where some of the riffs just don’t sound like they were just written by Ryan.  There’s so much more of an old school Hetfield-like crunch to them (I’m talking …And Justice For All era Hetfield, when he still had balls along with two years worth of emotional rage).  Extra props for that chorus hook – one of THE heaviest moments on the entire record!

Another big surprise here is the instrumental track, “Under The Waste Command”.  Oh yeah, it starts off like classic Waste, breaks into a very Maiden-like harmony, then breaks into a solo section with a rhythm that sounds like something right out of…a Megadeth album??  With a solo that sounds like it was played by Mustaine himself??  As of this writing I’m still not sure of whether or not Nick or Ryan played it.  But one of those two clearly did their homework.  It kind of reminded me of “Dialectic Chaos”, probably one of the ONLY tracks I liked on Endgame.  Fuck, even some of the riffs on the album closer, “Think Fast” sounded like latter day Megadeth at a certain point.

Slime And Punishment, to me, is everything we all love about Municipal Waste with a few great add-ons.  The album just shits frantic riffs played in a way only Ryan Waste can play them – but now with more of a crunch.   There are plenty of songs about humor, drinking, tons of debauchery, but now with even more energy than ever before!  The songs are all under three minutes and that’s actually fucking perfect.  Songs that sound like this would totally risk becoming stale if it went over that mark for sure.  Then again I’m personally a little biased for shorter songs more and more these days.  I blame it on my growing taste for Grindcore and Powerviolence bands.  But more so than that, the album can also be seen as a glimpse into the future for Municipal Waste.  If they stick to what they did here their next few records can proof without a shadow of a doubt that they still have yet to reach their full potential after all.  So was Slime And Punishment worth the five year wait?  You fuckin’ bet it was!

Key tracks: Breathe Grease, Enjoy The Night, Shrednecks, Parole Violators, Poison The Preacher, Under The Waste Command, Think Fast

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/4OjYHchQyvgOF2zAeGjyFh

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The Case For Abbreviated Training

The following is my first ever article for Bodybuilding.com, written today.  It was approved by the moderators not too long ago, hopefully it’s good enough to be published.  But you can read it here and judge for yourself:

I was first introduced to the idea of abbreviated training in 2009, when a trainer at my former gym told me about a book entitled Brawn. Originally released in 1991, it’s author, Stuart McRobert wrote in extensive detail about the important of shorter training in comparison to the routines found in magazines during the time of the book’s release. McRobert stressed that the average Joe couldn’t possibly get big or strong on a pro bodybuilder’s routine, but they could totally benefit by going back to the basics.

Let me clarify something first, the average Joe is not just a non-competitive bodybuilder. It’s someone like you and me, who works a day job five days out of the week and goes to home to multiple responsibilities. Some of you work more than one job, some of you have young children at home, and then there are other responsibilities that naturally hinder us from being able to just go to the gym and do multiple exercises in the course of four, five or even six days a week.

I can actually relate to this now more than ever as someone who recently competed in his first Powerlifting meet. I live in New Jersey but I work in Brooklyn, NY so it takes me a good hour an a half to get to and get home from work. Once I’m home I still have to prepare dinner, get ready for the next day, do things around the house, etc.

My current program, Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 for Powerlifting, calls for three or four day a week training; so what I decided to do was take the four day a week template and alternate it into a three day per week schedule in order to fit my daily needs as well as give myself time to recover from the previous workouts. That was a very important first step for me. The next thing I did for sake of shortening my training was reducing the amount of exercises I needed to do per training day.

This can especially benefit powerlifters. Are we training for looks come competition time or are we training to improve on the big three moves, Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift? If you chose the latter then keep reading! There are plenty of great powerlifting routines out there but if you’re like me and your trying to save time are you really going to waste your time training your secondary muscles? Sure, having thick lats can be beneficial, but are they what you’re using when you Deadlift? Fat chance! You need the power of those hamstrings and your glutes to help you bring that bar up. Same thing applies for Bench Presses. Once again referring to the lats, do they help you push the bar off your chest to the ceiling or do you need a thick chest along with strong triceps and shoulders to help you do the work?

So what’s the point of all of this? Because I’m strapped for time ten months out of the year I need to train in a way that’s practical and in order to do that I stripped my training of anything I found was unnecessary in helping to improve my functionality in the main lifts. In doing this I shortened my training dramatically and I still get results. Here’s an example of the way I currently train using just my working sets:

Day 1:
Overhead Press – 3 x 5/3/1
Barbell Curl – 3 x 10
Tricep Dips – 3 x 10

Day 2:
Deadlift – 3 x 5/3/1
Leg Curls – 3 x 10

Day 3:
Bench Press – 3 x 5/3/1
Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 x 10
Chest Dips – 3 x 10

Day 4:
Squats – 3 x 5/3/1
Leg Press – 3 x 10

Upon reading this you might notice that I split the assistance leg work to two different days. I chose to do that purposely based on which assistance work helps with certain lifts. If I’m squatting then I’d rather just stick with Leg Presses to help me build muscle in my quads, just as I’d rather do Leg Curls on Deadlift days to strengthen my hamstrings. Therefore I have two strictly upper body days and two strictly lower body days, all even arranged as to save time and give me more bang for my buck.

But this is just how I train, for the most part. It might be different for all of you. All I did was take a preset template and removed what I felt was wasting time, because time is money, of which I usually have none. So here’s something to think about in the future if you happen to fall in this category, because it’s amazing to see that the saying “less is more” actually fits here. So if you’re strapped for time and still want to train, get rid of the excuses and make a plan of action today!

Mike is an amateur powerlifter hoping to enter his second competition in the near future.

You can also check out the original article here if you want:

http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=172409253