One of those musical epiphanies, the kind that one can have at least once during their lifetime, occurred to me in late September 1988 at the then Concert Hall at the corner of Yonge and Davenport in downtown Toronto. I was attending a MetalFest of sorts (I don’t remember the show’s official name) that was scheduled during a weeknight, which hadn’t been _that_ big of a deal to attend, seeing as I’d dropped out of high school for that first semester of my final year and was working full-time in a cheese factory. The big news story of the day: Ben Johnson was stripped of his Olympic Gold Medal after testing positive for steroids.
Among the bands appearing on the bill was a group from the San Francisco Bay area that I’d heard about from friends and read about in various fanzines: Blind Illusion. They’d been through town one other time before this, however, at a licensed establishment where I would have been refused entrance due to my not being of the legal drinking age in Ontario. My pre-performance attraction (having never heard a note) was that one of their members, Larry LaLonde, had been a member of the metal outfit, Possessed, a group that I had previously been a fan of (see _The Eyes of Horror_ EP).
The band, lead by guitarist/vocalist Mark Biedermann, took to the stage looking very unmetal (no black leather or studded wristbands and bullet belts) and proceeded to put a refreshingly near-psychedelic spin on the evening’s tried (tired) and true genre of headbanging, fist-pumping Thrash Metal. Without sounding like the stop/start style-hoppings of John Zorn’s Naked City (another band I would have a musical epiphany over), the band successfully blended melodic lines and counterpoints with intricate motifs, heavy riffs and ball-crunching rhythms. I would later describe the group to friends as having a real Yes-meets-Metallica sound.
Once the band had finished, my first move, after picking my jaw up off of the ground, was to rush to the venue’s lobby to pick up one of the band’s t-shirts (a _blue_ one, not black) which I wore for the next two years until it was eaten by either a washing machine or a dryer. In the days immediately following the gig, I ran out to my local independent record store to pick up a copy of their debut LP, _The Sane Asylum_. Through various friends and connections, I also managed to get a cassette copy of the band’s first performance in Toronto. I played the tape until the magnetic finish had nearly been stripped away and practically wore out the grooves on the LP.
Flash forward to present day. I have been scouring the internet looking for either a copy of their album on CD (I have seen it with my own eyes before) or _any_ mp3s. Alas, the closest I’ve come to finding anything of Blind Illusion in a digital format has been YouTube videos from a show of theirs in Sonoma back in 1988.
Should you ever come across a copy of _The Sane Asylum_ on CD, please, _please_ get in touch with me. If the price tag ain’t too hefty, I’ll even PayPal you for it.