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Horrific Haikus

Death-metal band names make for fun magnetic poetry

The naming of rock bands has taken some strange turns of late. You've got that whole emo phrase/non sequitur/Mad-lib thing that's so easy to parody -- Autumn of My Radio, Leaves in the Ocean, It's a Mahogany Future and the like are simple to come up with. Then there's indie rockers -- because many of them are former Borders clerks, they tend to favor borrowing stuff like the titles of foreign films and songs from same. And a quick troll through the archives of movie database IMDb.com turns up a few candidates that could give chirpily ironic handles like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Death Cab for Cutie runs for their money -- the communist Czechs weigh in with Long Live Ghosts!, the Japanese come up with Voyeurs, Inc., and the Russians with The Art of Living in Odessa. (Come to think of it, that's actually a better album title.) It gets addictive fast; IMDb is a gold mine. Geography is also a current popular trend in band-naming, and here you can find dozens of map-based doozies: Submersion of Japan, Mexico in Flames, and Normal, Ohio are but three films that happen to be great would-be band names in this new wave of atlas-based band nomenclature.

But one genre has always stayed true to its roots. One genre doesn't pussyfoot around with slippery mental images, twee irony or stupid maps, unless they be of the infernal regions. I speak, of course, of metal.

The lineup for next week's Texas Murderfest 2004 makes this steadfast conservatism plain. With bands such as Bodies in the Gears of the Apparatus, Cephalic Carnage, Statues Cry Bleeding and Crimson Massacre on the bill, it's clear that not much has changed since 35 years ago, when Black Sabbath cast the die for all metal band names forevermore.

Your palette has only two basic colors, red and black. Your atlas replaces boring real countries like Belgium and Canada with nightmarish fantasy kingdoms that combine the scariest aspects of Transylvania with those of Buffalo, New York. These lands are studded with crumbling castles, vile dungeons, creaky gallows, mossy-stoned graveyards dotted with gnarled, raven-bearing trees, all under a blood-red sky through which glide clouds black as vultures. Books as we think of them are unknown here -- there are only hieroglyphic-laden papyrus scrolls and dragonskin-bound tomes full of runic script. You'd think you were in the Middle Ages, but this terrain is also postindustrial -- there are satanic black smokestacks scattered about, and each of these reeking behemoths rests atop a fiendish factory full of evil machines. This dystopia is peopled primarily by putrid, rotting-fleshed zombies, ghouls and wraiths with glowing coal-red eyes, who stalk about in tattered rags bent on mutilating and eating the flesh of what few terrified normal humans remain undevoured.

So I thought I would play along. I took the names of the bands on the Texas Murderfest bill and made them into a few horrific haikus. My only guidelines were to follow the basic rules of haiku (five syllables first line, seven the second, and five the third), and incorporate at least one band's name in each line. With a couple of exceptions, I didn't use the same band name twice. Feast your puny eyes on these, mortal humans! Carve them into your skin with rusty blades! Chisel them into your very bones!

(Crap, looking at these I see I cheated a little on the syllable count -- but hey, I'm not Japanese, and all I had to work with were the names of death metal bands. Cut me some slack, haiku dorks! By the way, all band names are italicized.)

SWEET JANE
It's the end of all
My forever is forgotten
I'm so far from Jane.

RUIN
Animosity!
The divine empire impaled!
Statues cry bleeding!

BACK ALLEY
This dying fetus,
From a second story window,
hurled into the moat.

DRAUGHT
Taste my hemlock
Someday Carolina,
and you'll suffokate.

DEATH DO US PART
12 gauge valentine!
The Arnolfini Marriage
is mutilated!

EN FUEGO
Mr. Hinkus was
Set ablaze by anal blasts.
High misery index!

AH, NATURE
She's six feet under,
gored by the Vampire Mooose, torn
Apart by horses.

I WANT YOU!
Join or die, Pinhed!
Cerebral rot won't save you
the final burden.

ELIMINATION
My macabre meat shits,
my colon's misery signals,
steak's immortal remains.

ELIMINATION NO. 2, A VARIATION ON A THEME
They are shed for you
anal blast meat shits burning
issue from my guts

CUSTOMER SERVICE
"Kill the client!"
was my dire incantation,
his crimson massacre.

The Texas Murderfest is Saturday and Sunday, September 11 and 12, at the International Ballroom, 14035 South Main. For information, call 713-729-1400 or 713-521-2300.Clear Channel to Hypocrisy

Allen Samuels Chrysler Jeep and Classic Rock 93.7 are teaming up to launch "Operation Desert Tunes," wherein the dealership and the radio station will work together to collect new and gently used CDs and AA and AAA batteries for the troops in Iraq. Donations can be made at the Allen Samuels Chrysler Jeep dealership in Clear Lake at 16200 Highway 3 anytime between now and Monday, September 6, at 6 p.m.

While the dealership's role in this mission of mercy is to be whole-heartedly commended, I can't help but remember that Classic Rock 93.7 is owned by the same Clear Channel Communications whose uniformly right-wing talk-show hosts organized, sponsored and advertised many a "grassroots" pro-war "Rally for America" around the time Dubya pulled the trigger on this damned war last year. No doubt some of the troops remember as well. And now Clear Channel wants us to give them stuff so they can play Santa Claus in Baghdad. And Lord knows they have plenty of CDs of their own they never play -- why can't they give the troops some of those? Or reach into their own pockets to buy them?

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