By Dave Pehling

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Influential New Orleans sludge-metal band Eyehategod brings its current tour with NYC hardcore punk legends Cro-Mags to San Francisco for two shows at Thee Parkside this Saturday.

Formed 30 years ago in the Big Easy by guitarist Jimmy Bower and drummer Joey LaCaze, the group drew on the downtuned sonic mudslide of the Melvins as well as a mix of important metal (Black Sabbath, Celtic Frost, Saint Vitus) and punk (Black Flag, Corrosion of Conformity) bands to craft it’s caustic, oppressive sound. Cycling through a number of players to fill out the group, Bower and LaCaze eventually found second guitarist Brian Patton and singer/lyricist Mike Williams, whose howling, angst-ridden delivery became a key component to Eyehategod’s identity.

The group recorded a couple of demos and issued its raw-edged debut In the Name of Suffering in 1990 through small French imprint Intellectual Convulsion, but the label would fold after only issuing 2,000 copies of the album. It would eventually be reissued two years later after the band signed to Century Media. It would follow with Take as Needed for Pain in 1993 which better captured the quintet’s desperate amalgam of lumbering doom, southern-fried metal and feedback-drenched punk.

By the time the band recorded it’s most successful effort Dopesick with noted metal producer Billy Anderson and COC guitarist Pepper Keenan in 1996, Eyehategod had firmly established itself as a force on the underground scene and had even begun tour with more mainstream metal acts like White Zombie and Pantera (whose singer Phil Anselmo would collaborate with both Bower and Williams on future projects).

The band would go on an unofficial hiatus for several years, eventually reconvening in 2000 for Confederacy of Ruined Lives, but the musicians would spend much of the next decade focused on other band projects (most notably Bower working with Anselmo in Down and Superjoint Ritual) and personal issues including battles with heroin addiction and Williams being incarcerated on drug charges after losing his home in Hurricane Katrina. But the band still managed to reunite for various festival appearances and a hometown show for its 20th anniversary in 2008.

Eyehategod released it’s first album in 14 years with it’s self-titled effort on Anselmo’s Housecore, but sadly it would be their last with drummer LaCaze who died in August of 2013. The band has soldiered on with new drummer Aaron Hill, even when Williams was forced to miss a number of live shows in 2016 that found Anselmo and Lamb of God singer Randy Blythe filling in (Williams would receive a liver transplant later that year).

With a new album in the works, the band brings its current tour across the U.S. to San Francisco, joined by New York hardcore legends Cro-Mags. Guitarist Parris Mayhew and bassist Harley Flanegan — already a teenage icon of the local punk scene — first started writing songs together in 1981, but the band wouldn’t come together until several years later when the pair found drummer Mackie Jayson and lead guitarist Doug Holland.

Though originally fronted by singer Eric Casanova, John “Bloodclot” Joseph would take over as the Cro-Mags quickly rose to headliner status at NYC punk clubs. He delivered the seething vocals on the band’s groundbreaking 1986 debut album The Age of Quarrel, a collection of songs that helped define the NYC punk sound of the era.

While Joseph would split with the group before it recorded the more metallic follow-up Best Wishes in 1989, he eventually rejoined the Cro-Mags in the early 1990s for Alpha Omega in 1992 by which point Mayhew had departed. The decades that followed would be filled with acrimony as member battled over control of the band name, culminating in an ugly 2012 incident at New York’s Webster Hall before a Cro-Mags show that ended with members of the band being stabbed and Flanagan suffering a broken leg.

While Joseph has branched out as an author and competitive tri-athlete, the singer also founded the short-lived punk supergroup Bloodclot with friend and guitarist Todd Youth, who played with iconic East Coast crews as Danzig, Murphy’s Law, Agnostic Front and D-Generation.

Rounded out by the powerhouse rhythm section of drummer Joey Castillo (Danzig, Queens of the Stone Age, Bl’ast) and bassist Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, Dwarves, Queens of the Stone Age, Bl’ast) to form the high-octane hardcore quartet. The band released its debut effort for Metal Blade Records Up In Arms last year, but the sudden passing of Youth last month spelled the end of the band.

Though ill will with Flanagan and Mayhew remain, Joseph and Jayson continue to tour under the Cro-Mags name with longtime bassist Craig Setari (Sick of it All, Youth of Today, Agnostic Front) and guitarist A.J. Novello (Leeway). For the two shows at Thee Parkside Saturday — an all-ages matinee at 2 p.m. and a sold-out 21+ evening gig at 9 p.m. — the two bands will be joined by Oakland hardcore outfit Mutilated Tongue.

Eyehategod and Cro-Mags
Saturday, Nov. 17 2 p.m. and 9 p.m., $30
Thee Parkside

 

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