(12/17/21) Hamtramck, MI is a small city nestled into a pocket of Detroit, MI. In the early 1900s, the city was home to many Polish immigrants. These days the community is a diverse melting pot, made up of closely stacked multi-unit home neighborhoods. Hamtramck is actually the most densely-populated community in the state of Michigan. The city is still known as “Polish town,” where people line up at Polish bakeries on Fat Tuesday to buy deep fried dough, stuffed with sweet filling and covered in powdered sugar, otherwise known as Paczki’s.
The Sanctuary is a small 300 capacity venue nestled into rows of buildings off the main drag in Hamtramck. The venue, formerly known as Paychecks, is primarily geared toward metal and punk shows.
The manager and bartender, Scott Curnow is no stranger to the scene. Scott is the singer and guitar player for the Detroit based hardcore thrash band S.N.A.F.U.
The first thing I noticed walking into the venue was the TV screen hanging at the end of the bar playing old reruns of 80s WWF wrestling matches. I watched an ancient match between “King Kong” Bundy and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka before the bands started.
Opening the show was a band out of Fraser MI called Cyadine. This five piece thrash metal band was full of head banging energy and talent. I especially enjoyed watching the lead guitarist who absolutely shredded what looked like a Jackson X Series (v-style) black and neon green guitar. His solos were off the hook. Cyanide released a new single the day of the show (12/17) titled “Hatespiration.” They released a 6 song EP titled “Awaiting the Return” in 2020.
Ten Thousand Teeth from Port Huron, MI followed up Cyadine with a killer set of sludge/thrash metal. Although their music was not as fast as the opening act, Ten Thousand Teeth certainly riled up the crowd. For one song, they asked fans to line up on either side of the dance floor to recreate a small club version of “the wall of death.” As the song began thrashing, the singer instructed the two sides to run and “smash” each other. The pit erupted into chaos. I spoke with the band briefly after the show and they mentioned that they are planning to head to the recording studio soon.
The Detroit, MI based thrash metal band Reducer played next. They were tight, consistent and fast. The singer/guitarist would stand at the edge of the stage like a statue overlooking the mosh pit working his fingers across the fretboard of his guitar with mind bending speed that made me wonder if he practices in his sleep. The band ripped through one song after another. At times, Reducer brought me back to old school thrash punk. In some songs, I also noticed what sounded like Iron Maiden influenced vocals. Packaged with screaming guitar solos, Reducer is a force to be reckoned with in the Detroit metal scene. The band released a self-titled album in 2020.
Mobile Deathcamp hit the stage and immediately lit the crowd up with their commanding stage presence.
If you’re not familiar with the band, Mobile Deathcamp are a three piece based in Toledo, Ohio. Self described as an old school speed-thrash/punk metal band, with influence from D.R.I to Slayer, this trio packs a punch.
Todd Evans, singer/guitarist and frontman is one of the hardest working musicians that I know. I met Todd in the late 90s when he played guitar for the Toledo punk rock band Lazy American Workers. Todd later went on to play bass in the shock-rock heavy metal band GWAR, where he portrayed Beefcake The Mighty. After a six year run with GWAR, Todd hung up the bass to form Mobile Deathcamp.
Immediately upon formation in 2008, Mobile Deathcamp began tearing through clubs across the country. The band has three full length releases; Black Swamp Rising (2008), Clear and Present Danger (2011) and one of my personal favorites, Summon The Destroyer (2016). “Vol 4-ish” is a 5 song EP released in 2019.
I chatted with Todd before the show, who shared that the band has a new album ready to be released. He didn’t offer a date but said that they are working on getting it out.
In true punk rock form, Mobile Deathcamp sped from one song to the next. The band played a sampling of songs across their albums with the exact speed and ferocity captured in the recordings.
A few covers were played during their set, which included “Jealous Again” by Black Flag, “Freedom of Choice” by Devo and a really cool heavy punk rendition of the Runaways 1976 tune “Cherry Bomb.”
I spent a lot of time brushing up on Mobile Deathcamp’s library of music weeks before the show and seeing them perform their songs with precise speed and accuracy was jaw dropping. Not only was the music impressive but the wise cracks and commentary Todd peppered in between songs brought smiles to the faces of metalheads throughout the club. If you’re a fan of thrash metal or punk rock, you will want to give these guys a listen and if they’re coming to a local club near you, I’d strongly recommend checking them out.