Oldschool Sunday: ANGKOR WAT

Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway

Corpus Christi, Texas circa 1986 sees the formation of a crossover thrash metal band unlike any other at the time, ANGKOR WAT.

At their height, the band’s classic lineup consisted of Adam Grossman, Mike Titsworth, David Nuss, Dave Brinkman, Danny Lohner, and Mike Trevino, though at times their roster also included Chris Chapa, Pete Young, and others. The quintet took their name from the Hindu-then-Buddhist temple complex in Cambodia, one of the world’s largest religious complexes. It suited them, too, as the band tackled issue-based complexities, such as religion and social concerns in their music.

That music would first begin to arrive with the independently issued, single side cassette-based ‘Demonstration Under Duress‘ demo in 1987, quickly followed by the three-song ‘Demo-1988‘ the following year. These recordings were quick to make the rounds via underground tape trading networks at the time, while ANGKOR WAT’s live shows were generating even more talk about the band within the record label industry circles.

Their frenzied stage-based assaults of punk / hardcore-infused thrash eventually helped the band land a deal with Metal Blade Records, from where they would release two full-length albums via the Death Records imprint. The first, ‘When Obscenity Becomes The Norm… Awake!‘, landed with a staggering throttling on listeners in 1989. Intense and uncompromising, the record received a plethora of critical acclaim from around the world.

A year later, in 1990, ANGKOR WAT released their second album, one with a major shift in musical directions for the band, ‘Corpus Christi‘. Much of the punk leanings of the earlier album were gone, replaced with a more precise exploration of metal and then-burgeoning industrial metal elements.

A third studio album was recorded, one that removed any restraints when it came to fully embracing an immensely prevalent industrial metal styling. For whatever reasons, ANGKOR WAT would eventually disband with Grossman and Lohner regrouping within a whole new project, Skrew. From there, the album (‘Burning In Water, Drowning In Flame’) was released via Metal Blade in 1992.

Skrew would release several more albums – not always with Danny Lohner in its line up though – while both Grossman and Lohner would contribute to other bands also. These include Grossman with Ministry and Flowering Blight while Danny Lohner is well known for his work with Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Puscifer, Black Light Burns, A Perfect Circle, and more.

Although ANGKOR WAT would remain inactive over the years, their musical legacy reached legendary proportions as they became a revered fixture in the annals of music’s history. This year would see further recognition for the band as they were inducted into the South Texas Music Walk Of Fame on June 2, 2018. The day before saw ANGKOR WAT reunite live and play at the House Of Rock in Corpus Christi, their first show in 28 years.

ANGKOR WAT are active now and reportedly are working on new music as a four-piece band, comprised of Dave Brinkman (vocals), Mike Titsworth (guitar), Mike Trevino (bass), and David Nuss (drums).  I look forward to this latest inception of this classic band returning.

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