A very rare video popped up a couple of months ago – Septic Death playing live at the Farm in San Francisco, in 1986. Up until now, the only things most people have had to go on for this band ( unless they saw them ) was the releases on Pusmort, Pushead’s famous artwork, and a few, often tiny, pictures of the band dotted about on old Geocities webpages. But no…
What they are probably most famous for is 1986’s ‘Now That I Have Your Attention…’ LP, a one in a million production – a harsh, powerful sound that was very exciting at the time it was released, and definitely uncharted territory. Now, anyone who has ever tried to record a loud band to tape will know that pushing it too far will weaken the sound, and that there is a sweet spot, a very sweet spot indeed where it all that power comes together, and it doesn’t happen very often either. I always thought that ‘Now…’ was a very hot post-recording master, and that probably remains true. But was it also a fortuitous tape capture of a very heavy handed and attacking band? The drum sound is phenomenal. Every instrument sounds like it is being thrashed to the limits of its physical existence, but up until now we had to use our imagination to visualise what they looked like as a band.
Huh? Ok. so what’s this got to do with Metallica? Fast forward in time if you will, to the 90s and 00s, with all that whining about production in the metal press. It was something of a bewilderment to an old bastard like myself, but I always felt outnumbered. You remember the furore over the St Anger snare sound? Now, I don’t necessarily wish to fly a flag for that album, but am I the only one to see the link between Lars Ulrich’s ( perhaps subconscious ) desire for a resonant bonging old school snare, and this one? Did they decide to go back to the their roots, and try to copy the Septic Death drum sound? If so, fair play ‘dude’…
So, are we dealing with a post-production tweak, or one the loudest playing bands of the 1980s almost blowing up the desk? Well….you decide. The sound isn’t up to much at the beginning of this video – it’s an historic document mainly – but watching these animals live, I know what I think.
And lastly who’s that introducing them ( and who went on to play on their following EP )? Yes, it’s James Hetfield…..of Metallica.
One thought on “New SEPTIC DEATH Live Video Emerges ( 1986)…..and the St Anger Snare Sound.”
Great to see you acknowledge the mighty debut from SF legends Septic Death !
A real favourite from the period. You are so right about the production and particularly the drum sound.
Opener “Quit” was a real favourite, also “Thaw”, “Silence” (which I’d heard previously on the ‘International P.E.A.C.E.’
comp LP…probably the most important LP I ever bought for discovering new amazing bands) and “Sweat Of A Nightmare” (Brother Snappa does a great vocal version of the intro). I’ve not heard this album for a good couple of decades until today, but ‘Silence’ and ‘Thaw’ in particular have always been in my head. I’ve got a demo tape of some of these tracks on a Mermaid T.I.T. tape somewhere, mainly from side 1 of the album from memory. I always hoped they’d play at the Mermaid but they never did make these shores I believe, plus Pushead was more into artwork I think.
Classic thrash from when the term meant something really fucking worthwhile. Nice one.
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