Speaking by phone from Cleveland, Don of the Dead can remind you a bit of Bob Ross: He's consistently gracious, his voice soft and gentle, and he exudes a sense of imperturbable tranquility. But while Mr. Ross' creativity compelled him to paint "happy little trees," Don's has led him to transform his tempered pitch into a feverish bellow, front the nefarious metal band NunSlaughter and give musical grief to God-freaks planet-wide.
"I'm pretty sure we've disappointed some people," he says of his mild-mannered telephone conduct. He laughs quietly. "We're not standing around in goat's blood 24/7. We're just some regular cats hanging out and playing."
Maybe so, but beneath that serene exterior lurks a brain inspired to pen songs like "Slaughter the Heavens," and the throat and gut to bring such songs into being. Lyrics like "I was not given the choice to join the Christian faith, sick of Christ and all his lies, wish I could be un-baptized" aren't simply a posture for Don. And his cordiality can be threatened by encounters like a post-office worker who relentlessly directed him to "Have a blessed day!" The "blesser" was eventually told "politely, but firmly" to put a stop to the practice.
NunSlaughter has been scorching the earth for 23 years now; the band called Pittsburgh home for its initial decade, followed by some line-up changes and relocation to Cleveland. Early on, the band focused on non-audience based pursuits -- "writing, recording, production," Don says. "Realistically I didn't even want to play shows -- I'm more a fan than a performer. But since moving to Cleveland and putting together the full line-up, I thought we should give live support."
At present, NunSlaughter's in the midst of a mini-tour, hitting Philly, Detroit, Baltimore and Chicago, as well as Pittsburgh this Friday at Belvedere's. The dates were originally meant to support a four-song EP that's officially title-less, but referred to as "Black" by band members ("because everything about it is black"), but the release was delayed.
"We'd already set the dates, so we have to go ahead with the shows even though we don't have the merch yet," says Don. With any luck, once they've got it in hand they'll come back around again to continue the satanic feast.
Skull Fest with Chronic Sick, Nunslaughter, Midnight, Cider, Oh Shit They're Going to Kill Us, Resist Control, Wrathcobra and Short Dark Strangers. 7 p.m. Fri., Nov. 6. Belvedere's, 4016 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $8. 412-687-2555