In 1995, Chad Ronillo gave me a mixtape that had 3 Bloodlet songs on it. It was the Smorgasbord 7", sandwiched in between Slugfest and Ashes. Those 3 songs were enough to hook me.
The first time I saw Bloodlet was Friday, May 12, 1995. I maintain that this was the first hardcore show at the Showcase Theatre. It was a rainy night, the first time I had driven on the 91 past Placentia. Loaded into Aaron Lisi's truck with Austin Algrhen, we had told the other kids from our area that the show was cancelled because we wanted to be the only ones there to witness it. Or maybe that was just me. Palefire, 1134, and Ignite also played the show.
Bloodlet did not "fit in" with the other bands, but that was to prove to be par for the course with them in my eyes.
I can't even fathom how many times I saw them after that. Every time? I only missed one show in the area to my knowledge—the last tour they made out here, they played at Hogue Barmichaels, and I just couldn't be bothered for whatever reason.
I played in 18 Visions for a few years, and collectively we fuckin' loved Bloodlet. Especially Ken Floyd. We would watch them, study them, film their shows, watch and study the video tapes. We knew all the transitions, every segue that was not recorded. Those mechanics worked their way into our songs- instrumental breaks and interludes. Experimentation and "jamming", to the point of recording a song for "yesterday is time killed..." that had just been a jam session in our cold storage unit.
18 Visions only played one show with Bloodlet to my knowledge, on January 23, 1998 at the Whisky in Hollywood. The show was headlined by Entombed, an event who's heaviness did not mean much to me at the time, because we were just stoked to be able to play with Bloodlet. Even sitting in the green room with them was insane to me, even though they were probably just crappy band dudes like me, a couple years older and a few more laps around the country.
The photos included in this brief collection of memories are from 3 shows"
The photo above was also at the Showcase Theatre, from October 2nd, 1996. The flyer for that show is below. You can see the screen in the background that Neurosis used. All of the other bands had to play in front of Neurosis' gear. I left after Man Is the Bastard because I honestly didn't think anything could top that.
At the Bloodlet show at the Soul Kitchen in San Diego (pictured below), the second incarnation of Deadguy sans Huckins and Singer also played on the bill. I don't rightly know when that show was, but I reckon around 1998.
Somehow, I always wound up in front of Matt, whom a member of 18V dubbed "Straight Corn." Corn, as in the husk of an ear of corn, but straightened. I have many, many more photos of Bloodlet and almost all of them are of Matt and Scott.
Bloodlet always existed in this weird nether realm—not quite hardcore, not quite metal. The darkest, most sinister, yet somehow not evil for evil's sake. They didn't even have to try, it seemed, the darkness just radiated from them.
You can hear it in the tritone chords, in the lyrics that exuded someone's bitterness at not belonging, and the tempos that rarely broke past a feverish head bob.
I don't think this kind of music really exists today. Maybe that's a good thing? But I, for one, lament the loss.
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