Some 30 years ago in the City of Dallas, Texas, emerging thrash metal legends Rigor Mortis played a gig with Glenn Danzig (and his post-Misfits band Samhain) in what would go down as an infamous night in Deep Ellum’s budding music scene. Rigor Mortis were in their earliest incarnation; a three piece consisting of drummer Harden Harrison, bassist Casey Orr, and guitarist Mike Scaccia. Singer Bruce Corbitt had yet to join the band, yet the trio had already earned some considerable buzz around town. Rigor Mortis were able to finish their set that night, but the Man shut down the show two songs into the Samhain set. Adorned in riot gear, Police shut down the show under the pretense that the Circle A Ranch was lacking a Dance Hall Permit. Audience members were roughed up, authorities showed zero sympathy, and Glenn Danzig didn’t get paid. For years, I’ve heard scenesters and musicians talk about this night.
Thirty years later, the Circle A Ranch is long gone and Samhain turned into Danzig, but Rigor Mortis is still around to kick your ass. Today, they’re called Wizards of Gore. Following the death of founding member and guitar superhero, Mike Scaccia, the band reformed as The Scaccianators with Corbitt and Scaccia’s high school buddy, guitarist Mike Taylor. After playing some benefit shows for the Mike Scaccia Heart Rock Foundation, the band decided to adopt the name Wizards of Gore and continue to play shows and write new material. Tonight, the band is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the legendary Samhain/Rigor Mortis show, playing alongside a Samhain cover band called Black Rain.
Black Rain played a short, but strong set to get the crowd warmed up for the Wizards and though it wasn’t the band themselves, no one was missing an appearance from Glenn Danzig. Nope, never occurred to us. Wizards of Gore were so damn loud and so damn good, no one needed Glenn. The Wizards powered through a set that drew on material from their self-titled debut album and their final album with Scaccia, Slaves to the Grave. The band was incredibly tight and special mention should be made for Mike Taylor’s guitar playing. Doubtless, many among us are likely skeptical that anyone could step in for Mike Scaccia. But, I’ll be damned if Taylor doesn’t do an incredible job. I don’t personally have all Scaccia’s Rigor solos memorized, but as far as I could tell Taylor hit every note. If you’re a Scaccia fan, you will very much appreciate what Taylor can do. Midway through the set, the band kicked out a blistering cover of the Hawkwind/Motorhead song “Motorhead,” which appropriately enough featured vocals by bassist Casey Orr. And hat’s off to Casey, his voice sounded great. A few songs later, the band brought one of their biggest fans onstage to sing “Poltergeist” from the Slaves album. Oh, this fan was 13-14 years old, I think. And he killed it. It was a special moment for everyone as we were celebrating a 30 year history and witnessing a new generation of fans.
If you’re less informed about the Rigor Mortis history, I encourage you to check out Part 1 of their documentary film that was released last year, Welcome to Your Funeral: The Story of Rigor Mortis Part 1 (Beginning to 1987). Part 2 of this documentary is in production, but you can glean enough from Part 1 to know that this band has a unique place in the music history of Texas (not just Dallas-Fort Worth). Then make sure you catch them at their next gig.
– J. Kevin Lynch