Photo Gallery: Mac Sabbath, Thor Axe, Cross Examination at The Firebird (St. Louis, MO)

Matt Albers

There are gimmick bands, there are joke bands, and then there are bands like Mac Sabbath. Formed in 2014, this American heavy metal quartet is a parody band, that only plays songs written by metal godfathers Black Sabbath, reworked to center around the theme of fast food giant McDonalds. You read that right. With songs like “More Ribs,” “Chicken For The Slaves,” “Brand Of Doom,” “Lord Of The Swirl,” “Fryin’ Pan,” “Cherries Are Fruits,” and “Pair-O-Buns,” the act is pretty much the “Weird Al” Yankovic of metal. Which, depending on one’s preference, is either the greatest or the worst thing that could ever happen. As if that wasn’t enough goofball hilarity, all four members are in full character (also referencing classic, easy-to-decipher metal icons), as follows: vocalist Ronald Osbourne, guitarist Slayer McCheeze, bassist Grimalice (A.K.A. “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butler!”), and drummer Catburgler (A.K.A. “Glamburglar,” and “Peter Criss Cut Fries”).

The group stopped at St. Louis’ The Firebird on March 29, 2016. Social media buzz had helped to generate a large crowd of the smaller-sized venue on a Tuesday night, all fans excited to either enjoy the show, or simply see witness the bizarre for themselves. As if the headliner wasn’t enough for the night, fans were also treated to two local openers, fitting for such a bill. First, was crossover drunkards Cross Examination. For over a decade, these classically D.I.Y. thrashers have been putting the “meta-” in “metal.” Their level of satire may have been a little more subtle than that of Mac Sabbath, but with lyrics primarily about drinking, coupled with a brilliantly ironic stage presence, Cross Exam started off the night perfectly. Vocalist Devil Dan appeared on stage donning what looked like a homemade St. Louis cape, and wore a paper bag over his head, with eye and mouth holes cut out (which he later shared with drummer Ryan O’Brien), explaining that he was just trying to fit in with the rest of the costumed freaks that would later take the stage.

The second of the two local openers was the St. Louis’ own “instrumetal” act, Thor Axe. After forming in 2007 as a side project of St. Louis band So Many Dynamos, the sextet took a hiatus in recent years, only to reunite again. Also featuring members of renowned St. Louis metal acts Black Fast and The Gorge, Thor Axe is like nothing else in our local scene. The impressive musicianship of each member comes together in an awe-inspiring audio-visual collision of progressive rock, technical metal, jazz fusion, and synthesizer space ambience. And in case this didn’t sound nerdy enough for you, add a system of both forward- and reverse-facing vertical LCD screens, showing off an colorful light display, and featuring 8-bit video game and anime-inspired visuals (which also made photographing the group more challenging, let me tell you).

After the final opening act finished their set, a giant curtain was draped across the stage. Once enough time was given for the crew to dress the stage, Stephen Sondheim’s “Send In The Clowns” began to play over the P.A. system. Maniacal laughter built up until the curtain dropped, revealing the mighty (delicious) Mac Sabbath. Slayer McCheeze’s head showed off tusks resembling Motörhead’s mascot, Snaggletooth. Each of Catburglar’s drums were dressed up like – you guessed it – a hamburger. Grimalice… Well, take one look at his costume and try to figure out how the hell whoever was wearing it could play on stage (GWAR would be proud). Ronald Osbourne rose up from the floor and ripped off his straightjacket, as he not only began to sing, but also began grilling on a prop grill, complete with controllable “steam” (one could only assume that the burger patties were made from bat meat).

Mac Sabbath’s set was full of not only hilarity, but the familiar sounds of Sabbath, bloody Sabbath. The musicians were actually really good! If Slayer McCheeze removed his mask and revealed that he was actually Toni Iomi, I don’t think anyone would be surprised – he was that good! Even Ronald had a pretty spot-on Ozzy impression! …When he talked, anyway (his singing voice left something to be desired). The dedication this band had to their gimmick is surprisingly strong. They didn’t just play their songs, they never broke character, and even spoke to the audience as if their own mythology existed; referencing other metal/rock-food hybrid bands like “Burger King Diamond,” “Dairy Queensrÿche,” and “Iggy Popeye’s Chicken,” just to name a few. They even ended most of their songs with a resounding, “I’m Lovin’ It!!” To make Mac Sabbath’s St. Louis debut even more special, they brought up their friend and local native, Clownvis Presley, to sing a duet on “N.I.B.B.L.E.”

Gimmick bands can often cause people to roll their eyes and walk away. But whether you’re a music fan, a comedy fan, or just someone looking for something different, Mac Sabbath is worth checking out at least once in your life. You might just find out that you like the way it tastes, and crave a second helping… See what I did there?

Special thanks to Maria Ferrero, Arielle Rosselli, and all of the other good people at Adrenaline P.R. for their help in setting this up, and also to them – and to you, our readers – as always, for your patience in our delay with this and many other of our projects, as we work on both this website and our day jobs at the same time!

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