Top 5 Extreme Metal Moments by Kelly Shaefer (Atheist)

#5. The end of the “Morrisound” era. In the late ‘80s Morrisound Studios in Tampa was the place to record, and it provided the first real clear production, in my opinion, of double bass work that was happening in the early days of extreme metal. For the first time you were able to hear things in a way that bands had not been able to achieve before Morrisound. Everyone came from around the world to get that sound: the clicky bass drums, the warm production of guys like Scott Burns, and Tom and Jim Morris. I still have yet to see a studio have such an influence on a sound of a generation of metal bands. But somewhere along the way, digital recording came along and suddenly you could on your own, in a much less expensive way, capture great sounds, with clarity within the speed of this music. And thus it seemed that there was almost a backlash of Morrisound traits such as the glossy, clicky bass drum sound, and other studios were able to capture and exceed the sounds that were once the staple of all of our bands. Thus ending the end of the Morrisound era. To me anyways. This was a big deal in Tampa. They still exist and do great work don’t get me wrong, but long gone are the classic Morrisound productions that have set the stage for the music we enjoy today.
#4. Tampa Bay “Spike” Awards.  This took place in the heyday of the Tampa Bay metal movement that spawned a who’s who of  what is considered the most significant crop of bands that have gone on to influence a lot of today’s top bands. Atheist, Death, Morbid Angel, Obituary, Malevolent Creation, Deicide, Cynic, Monstrosity, the list goes on of bands that helped carve a niche scene that has yet to be duplicated in extreme metal to date. This was highlighted by this awards ceremony. Even MTV visited and did a spot of the awards, featuring it on their popular ‘Week in Rock’ news segment as I recall. It was exciting to see such an underground movement displayed on such a large stage. The performances that night were amazing. And crowd electric.

#3. Cannibal Corpse in Ace Ventura (Pet Detective). I have known the CC guys forever. We toured together back in 1991. Seeing Chris Barnes and his cousin It blowing it out on stage with Alex, Paul, and the boys, and [then] pan to Jim Carrey bouncing around a club while CC was playing on stage, it was a bit surreal to see. CC has always been a shocking example of the underground extreme metal scene to outsiders. Was really good for them to have a chance to do something like that, and it was cool for metal as well. I heard Jim Carrey was a death metal fan. Very cool.

#2. The return of Cynic. I met the Cynic guys back in 1989, and from the first moment I saw them on stage, I knew [they] were kindred spirits musically. We hit it off as friends, and often spoke at great length on the phone about music, lyrics, etc. We were doing demos for Unquestionable Presence, and I told them they should come to Morrisound Studios and make a demo. So they came up and did the Cruel Gentility demo. I remember sending the demo around for them and people just scratching their heads, much the same way they did when Atheist was played for them. So I always felt a need to try to make people understand them. And Atheist. This is why the return of Cynic is so special to watch. They crafted a great piece of art in Traced in Air, and have placed themselves on a perch of their own, and I can’t say enough about the quality of their playing. After many years people finally understand what excited me about them in the late ‘80s. They are a far different band now, but unique onto themselves. As an artist that’s the true pinnacle!

#1. The untimely deaths of Roger Patterson and Chuck Schuldiner. These two individuals played such a huge role in the metal scene we all love and enjoy today. Both innovative and influential, respectively. I cannot stress enough to young metal extreme metal fans of the importance in their work. Chuck made a bold statement in a time when it was not accepted as it is today. Writing songs that were literally heavy musical horror clips, always pushing the bounds of what metal could/should be. I was fortunate enough to call Roger Patterson. One of my best friends and the most organically talented bass players I have ever seen. As unpretentious as a human could be, he was both humble  and as approachable as a guy could be. The sickest beast of a bass player, he was just…snot-flying, head-snapping, spider-fingered madness! He wrote some of metal’s most insane moments to date in my opinion. And I hope that he will always be held in high regard by those who follow the path he helped carve in technical extreme metal.

** Atheist’s new album, Jupiter, is out now on Season Of Mist. Order it here.