Death metal quartet Thorazine was many of our readers’ introduction to the local metal scene. The band’s live performances stood alone in the scene in brutality and energy. Shows were always packed to the nines with drunken kids and adults, ready to tear apart the venue. Thorazine always did it for us.
It’s been just over seven years since their final performance and members have gone on to grace the stage with Exit Strategy, Divinity, Reverend Kill, Caveat, Operation Winter Mist, Blacksky, Gummers, WAKE and Ghetto Hawk. But those shows always crop up in the collective memory, along with the discography: 1996’s Thorazine, 1999’s Seed the Black Sky, 2001’s Geneticide, and 2004’s The Day the Ash Blacked Out the Sun. All embody the then tiny metal scene that has since grown to impressive proportions and are simply great records to boot. It’s great then, that those coveted records are now again available.
“I’ve been backing the whole thing,” says former vocalist Shane Hawco, who put the albums on iTunes for download for prices ranging from $8.91 to $9.99. Hawco sang for Thorazine from shortly after their inception until 2004. “I’ve got a lot of e-mails over the years from people asking if I have any more copies [of the albums], so this seemed like the best way to get it out there.”
Sobered by the ailing health of friends and the passing of former Into Eternity guitarist Rob Doherty and Woods of Ypres’ David Gold, Hawco was proactive in ensuring Thorazine and the musical memories would endure, regardless of the lineup.
On each of their albums, Thorazine combined sound samples with screeching, howling vocals, thrashy riffs, and a meaty bass and drums combination that provided a galloping death metal flavour. Groovy and crushing, Thorazine always incited a walloping circle pit.
“We played shows and we kicked ass,” concurs drummer Ryan O’Neill, who joined the band in 2000, replacing drummer Scott Tanner. “It was fun. We did dominate for a long time.”
When doing research for this story, old friends reminisced about said circle pits and face punching, bringing their dad out for the second show of their lives, how the band blew everyone off the stage, obsessing over them in 2002 from Toronto but never being able to see them, and playing shows with them back in 1999. As the members themselves reflect, its clear they are proud of their influence and where the Calgary metal scene is now.
“When we first started playing there weren’t many people doing much… I think on that end, we might have motivated people to come out and just start doing things, or maybe people thought we can do better than them,” laughs Joe Sikorski, guitarist and songwriter for the band throughout its entire lifespan. “For the most part, the first few years it was really difficult… but nowadays things have started to really snowball.”
The scene has continuously grown, despite Thorazine breaking up officially in 2004 (though playing a show in 2005 with Suffocation and Cryptopsy) over artistic differences. However, every member we chatted with indicated that a reunion show isn’t out of the question.
“I think we should get every person that was ever in Thorazine together and do a show where we’re all on stage at the same time,” jokes guitarist Matt McDonald, who played in Thorazine from 2002 to 2004. “Two or three drummers, five guitars, two singers, three or four bass players, and we’ll just play ‘Rapid Desecration’ once and then vanish FOREVER into a puff of pot smoke and shit breath. Fucking epic.”
We can dream, can’t we?
By Sarah Kitteringham
Illustration: Nathan Navetto