Thanatos: Thanatos Comes Alive! — Part 1 (the 90s) (Digital)

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1 An Embassy to Gaius — Live at Thurstons, Chicago, ’97
2 Watching the River Freeze — Live at Thurstons, Chicago, ’97
3 A Feast of Snakes — Live at Thurstons, Chicago, ’97
4 The Shattered Sky Now Settled — Live at Thurstons, Chicago, ’97
5 No Longer at Ease — Live at Thurstons, Chicago, ’97
6 The Wait Smothers Me — Live at Thurstons, Chicago, ’97
7 Moon of Dying Grass — Live at Thurstons, Chicago, ’97
8 All I Have Left — Live at Thurstons, Chicago, ’97
9 Hebron — Live at Thurstons, Chicago, ’97
10 Don’t Fear the Reaper — Live at Thurstons, Chicago, ’97
11 As With Water — Live at Thurstons, Chicago, ’97

1 Von Stauffenberg — Live at Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte NC, ’96
2 Fear and Trembling — Live at Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte NC, ’96
3 All I Have Left — Live at Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte NC, ’96
4 Connie — Live at Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte NC, ’96
5 The Cobra School of Happiness — Live at Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte NC, ’96
6 Infinite in all Directions — Live at Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte NC, ’96
7 Jamais Pars — Live at Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte NC, ’96
8 Necessities of Hell and Creation — Live at Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte NC, ’96
9 The Wait Smothers Me — Live at Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte NC, ’96
10 Things Fall Apart — Live at Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte NC, ’96
11 God Damn the Sun — Live at Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte NC, ’96

Thanatos live is a fundamentally different creature from Thanatos studio. On their first two albums, the songs were mostly acoustic and built around singer, acoustic guitarist and songwriter Patrick Ogle’s voice and lyrics. Then in 1996, Ogle took the band out of the studio and on the road. And they (almost) rocked! On these two (almost) complete shows from ’96 and ’97 the focus of the music shifts from the acoustic to the electric guitar. Even though there are plenty of purely acoustic tracks here, William Tucker’s electric rings out, making Thanatos live sound punchy and powerful, changing the tone from the often-retiring studio versions.

“A big part of this change was having Tucker in the band, but it is also the fact that if you play mellow music in a club — and we played lots of clubs — you wind up with people talking louder than the music!” says Ogle.

Until 1996 Thanatos had been a home studio project consisting of Ogle and keyboardist Sam Rosenthal. There never really was a thought of playing live. While living in Los Angeles, Ogle caught the live bug (there is no vaccine for this). You might say the “bug” bit him at a Chris Connelly Band show at the Troubador. That’s the night Ogle met Tucker for the first time.

A few months later, back in Chicago, Ogle contacted old friend and former Godbullies bassist, Eric Polcyn who signed on to play with Thanatos live. Polcyn suggested asking Tucker to join the band. Ogle’s initial reaction was “Why would he want to play with ME?” The music was something of a departure from the usual bands Tucker played in such as Ministry, Chris Connelly Band, Foetus, Pigface, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, and seminal NJ instrumental band, Regressive Aid (which later morphed into Scornflakes when vocals were added). After listening to Thanatos’ 1995 sophomore album An Embassy to Gaius, Tucker signed on.

“He said, ‘I get it, it is like a concept album,’” says Ogle. “And we went to work from there. We fundamentally changed some of the songs over time to fit the live environment. On stage, we worked on and worked out the songs that would wind up on the Blisters record.”

Thanatos’ first show ever was in Hamilton, Ontario in ’96 as part of a half dozen dates in the Northeast. The tour continued later the same year with the second leg starting at Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte, NC. That show is captured on Thanatos Comes Alive Part 1 (the 90s). The other show on this recording is from Thanatos’ third (and longest) tour, in ’97. It was the second-to-last show at Chicago venue, Thurston’s. Both shows capture the band as a three piece with no drummer. Tucker played electric guitar and did programming. Ogle sang and played acoustic guitar while Polcyn added bass, keyboards and occasional percussion.

Included is a dramatic and dirge-like version of Thanatos’ famed cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” and five tracks that would later appear on the 1997 Blisters album.

Release: May 27 2022

Cover photo by Susan Jennings

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