As I approached the iconic marquee in front of The Metro in Chicago last night, I realized something: I hadn’t been to a show there in a very long time. During the mid-late 90s (and even into the early 00s), The Metro was a regular haunt for me – a place to check a host of metal, industrial, punk, hardcore and alternative shows. I saw bands like ACUMEN NATION and SMASHING PUMPKINS on that stage, took my wife to see MR. BUNGLE there, and saw countless, no-name local thrashers who would eventually disappear back into the shadows from which they came.
In recent years, The venue has really veered toward what I can only think of as “hipster shit” for the most part – what passes as “alternative” these days, bands that populate the SiriusXM airwaves on a block of channels that I usually skip in-between First Wave and Lithium, and the rock block that runs Octane through Faction. Honestly, I don’t recall the last show I attended at The Metro, but it’s sort of fitting that the band that brought me back there was a band that’s heyday was in the 90s – Chicago death metal crew, BROKEN HOPE.
In my years long prior to becoming THE ROCK FATHER, I spent more than my fair share of time slamming through pits that swirled with angst-filled males, kicking and swinging to gore-filled soundtracks peppered with words like “flesh,” “cannibal,” “guts” and more (and a lot worse). BROKEN HOPE were a band that I missed the first time around, but in their current regeneration found me front-and-center last night. Through metallic fate, bassist Shaun Glass and I live minutes from each other, and I’ve done some work for him in the not-so-distant past. With BROKEN HOPE performing their first hometown headline show in over a decade, I had to be there.
Watch: BROKEN HOPE takes the stage – “Septic Premonitions (Intro)” & “Womb of Horrors”
A couple of weeks back, I joked that I would bring my four-year-old daughter, Addie, and do a feature entitled “My First Death Metal Show.” While I wasn’t serious, as I got ready to leave for the show last night, I asked her if she’d like to come see some metal. She promptly threw up both horns (double-metal, as she’s been known to say) and turned to my wife: “I’m gonna go with Daddy to see some metal,” she said. My wife wasn’t amused, and proceeded to ask if I was nuts. Yes, I am, but I wasn’t seriously considering taking Addie to hear such modern classics as “The Flesh Mechanic” and “Predacious Poltergeist” live and in-concert, but the thought amused me.
The current line-up of BROKEN HOPE – Damian Leski (vocals), Jeremy Wagner (guitars), Shaun Glass (bass), Chuck Wepfer (lead guitars), and Mike Miczek (drums) – puts on a hell of a show, if not one that seems bigger than it should, given the surroundings. The production begs for a bigger venue and a wider audience, which is were the real trick lies: new-school performance for an old-school crowd, and no matter how many cool visuals you can place alongside death metal at it’s tightest, I’m not really sure how to attract new listeners – new blood – into a niche genre that feels smaller today, than it did decades ago. But that’s the reviewer in me – the “business” part that’s kicked around on several sides of the industry die over the years and has a tendency to over-analyze things.
Last night, I got to enjoy a few hours of “me” time – a real rarity these days – while checking out a band that I dig in a venue that I’ve missed. And, when my wife saw that I’d purchased a BROKEN HOPE wristband, she shook her head for a second and reminded me that “Wristbands are fine for 15-year-olds.” There’s that number again… 15.
BROKEN HOPE’s new album, OMEN OF DISEASE is available now on Century Media Records, and can be ordered via my affiliates: