Los Angeles–area venues showcasing doom, war, grindcore, pagan, Viking, thrash, death, speed and black metal are few and far between, so the recent Slaughterhouse event at Teragram Ballroom was a much-anticipated bout of good, not-so-clean fun. And who was the manly hairy metal beast that organized this thrashy affair? Why, it wasn’t a manly beast at all.
Enter one Susan Slaughter (aka Nee Noelle), a horror film actress who is best known for her appearances as the paranormal expert on the SyFy series Ghost Hunters, Ghost Hunters International, and Ghost Hunters Academy, as well as her current role on Travel Channel’s Paranormal Caught on Camera.
Slaughter is a dynamo, booking, curating, calling, driving, feeding and organizing every aspect of her passion project. “I’ve grown up loving horror and metal my whole life. Although I’ve had some success in the paranormal and in film, these are aspects of my taste that I don’t get to share within the paranormal community and film," she says. "I’ve also had this dream of being able to perfect the trifecta of being well known in paranormal, being well known in horror films and well known in music.”
She has a precise vision, “I had this idea of making Slaughterhouse the hardest, most macabre, most diabolical fest you could possibly put together. So I went on this quest finding the most in-your-face extreme metal bands, of different genres, and bringing them all together.”
Headlining her first ear-bleeding affair were Colombians (based in Dallas) Thy Antichrist, who did much shrieking about Nietzsche. They were ably supported by fellow Colombian blood curdlers Aire Como Plomo and two esteemed local acts, Witchaven and Vile Descent.
Slaughter sets out to curate within the dark arts at her events, featuring film (work by acclaimed Danish director Michael Panduro) and art for sale by the likes of Daniella Batsheva and Lizz Lopez. Hell, you could even buy a death-metal bikini in the foyer.
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As for the evening’s symphony, Thy Antichrist’s lead singer Andres Vargas’ imposing stage presence centered a post-apocalyptic foursome that whirled furiously around his doom. This is not music for the faint-hearted; it is complex, heavy, technical and athletic, and once you get past the aural assault, you get a strange sense of calming harmonics and musicality that is otherwise deceiving. Playing a home game, black-metal mavens Witchaven were adorable, crunchy and loud. Should frontman Henry Montoya ever wish to quit music, he may have a future doing stand-up. Air Como Plomo delivered a muscular, no-frills set that somehow reminded me of The Jesus Lizard, and the openers, South Central’s very own Vile Descent, delivered a thrashy set of their own. Eschewing an encore, the group came out and spent a substantial amount of time meeting and taking pictures with the fans. They could not have been more endearing and accommodating, proving once again that some of the scariest-looking people are often the kindest.
It is a fact that most metal gigs are testosterone-fueled sausage parties. Not so with Slaughterhouse's noise pits. “I saw so many beautiful awesome women support my [last] event,” Slaughter says, encouraged, adding “but not because they knew it was run by a female.”
That said, female empowerment, active engagement and promoting healing within the metal scene are important to her. “This is something we are talking more about in society, where women are being a bit more outspoken. Women are targeted in many negative ways, and this is a cathartic event," says Slaughter, who is already planning the next event (she hopes to do them biannually).
"Women have a need to express themselves," Slaughter continues. "Metal is beautiful in that sense because you express it in the pit, and you express it onstage, and through guitars and through drums. It’s a way of people coming together and bonding over the strife and trauma of everyday life and doing it in a way that unites people. Metal is a great way to release in a healthy, positive way. I feel that people who don’t have that release are the ones who go on a shooting spree.”