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The legend of Internal Mutiny

Gather round, Southern Oregon, and let me tell you of Internal Mutiny, a ragged band of Ashland hellions whose trade is that demonic cacophony known throughout the land as thrash metal.

I encountered them last Sunday when they opened for the women's roller derby bouts at Roller Odyssey.

The facts are sketchy, but from the jagged pieces I've gathered from various MySpace and Facebook pages dedicated to the band, they are three (maybe four) Ashland teenagers who have dedicated themselves to metal.

And not just any metal; true, honest-to-Lucifer '80s and '90s thrash metal.

Strange, considering most of the music they cover — Metallica, Pantera, Slayer, etc. — was in its heyday before the oldest member of Internal Mutiny was even born.

Ah, there is hope for the youth of America after all.

I will admit, they didn't sound like much at first. I arrived at Roller Odyssey 20 minutes before the first bout, my mind focused on the femme fatale mayhem I was soon to witness.

Internal Mutiny blasted from the stage at the far end of the rink. From where I was, it sounded like an amorphous drone, though I could make out a riff here and there.

I hooked up with some friends to discuss the night's bouts, when suddenly I heard Dave Lombardo's legendary drum intro to Slayer's "Raining Blood."

At first, I thought the diminutive solider behind the drums was screwing around before launching into some nu metal hash.

Then came the opening guitar salvo of one of Slayer's most crushing songs off the seminal "Reign in Blood" opus, a top-three metal album.

In disbelief, I joined two of my metal connoisseur friends at the stage.

Internal Mutiny played fast and it played ugly, and it dug its nails into Slayer's punk rock core and tamed it before a small, but impressed crowd. For a moment, I forgot I was at a roller derby. It was an Internal Mutiny show.

It's a disorienting feeling watching people 15 years your junior playing music you want to hear.

My friend George said he was in a metal band in the mid-'80s, but it held nothing on Internal Mutiny.

"This is the metal band I wanted to be in," he said.

The bass player looks like a middle-schooler channeling the restless ghost of deceased Metallica bassist Cliff Burton. The bass he clutched was nearly as tall as he.

From Slayer, the band slid into cuts of Metallica's "Ride the Lightning" and "Kill 'Em All," along with "Cowboys from Hell"-era Pantera.

I've seen Metallica cover bands in various gigs across the nation. None held a candle to Internal Mutiny's rendition of "Master of Puppets." Two Metallica cover bands I've witnessed skip the blissful Kirk Hammett breakdown and solo that provides the listener a much-needed respite during the epic tune.

Internal Mutiny's lead guitarist, who claims to be 18 years old on his MySpace page, but surely is the reincarnation of Randy Rhoads and therefore ageless, wielded a Dimebag Darrell Dime-O-Flame guitar for most of the show. It's a cool piece of machinery that shows he is serious about this metal thing.

At one point, one of the band's friends, a kid no older than 18, approached my buddies and asked if he would mosh with him.

"Sure, man, let's do it," George replied.

He owed it to him for asking so nicely.

The sudden violence bubbling in the pit below seemed to inspire the band, as they worked a towering cover of Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls," perhaps the finest five minutes and 20 seconds in metal history.

Internal Mutiny was gathering momentum when the roller derby organizers flashed the house lights to remind them that there were, in fact, bouts about to happen.

For a moment I wanted them to ignore the Man and keep the metal flowing. It's never too soon to be kicked out of a venue for inspiring anarchy or to get arrested; these things help build metal street cred.

I meant to track the band down after the show, but they disappeared into the night. It was almost as if it were a surreal dream and suddenly it was over.

On my worst days, I succumb to despair when considering my country's youth. The likes of Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers and the "American Idol" machine that churns mediocrity into profit cannot represent the logical ends of our apocalypse culture.

However, hopeful signs in the darkness such as Internal Mutiny allow me, on my best days, to believe the kids are going to be all right after all.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.