I owe Shroud of Despondency’s Rory Heikkila an apology. Not only was I extremely tardy in my reviews of the band’s albums—Pine and Tied to an Dying Animal—this interview was supposed to occur months ago. Quite frankly the band slipped through the cracks of my massive backlog of metal to review, emails to answer and interview requests. I guess my situation sort of mirrors the band’s trials and tribulations as they have slipped through the cracks of even metal’s most independent labels during the band’s 15 years of existence (and 18 or so releases)…
Alphabetical Interview Archives
For a decade now, Slovenia’s Dekadent have toiled in the underground with little fanfare or recognition, only exalted by those few in the know about this superb band. Maybe it’s the band’s geographical location. Or the band’s chosen style of un-traditional black metal that focuses on cinematic atmospheric and uplifting harmonies. But for whatever reason the band never seemed to get the recognition it deserved with their three prior albums, notably 2011s sumptuous Venera : Trial & Tribulation, my first exposure to the band.
A few years ago North Carolina’s Daylight Dies were the darling of the US death doom scene, picking up the mantle of the likes of Morgion and invoking the Finnish greats like Rapture and such. But 4 only albums in 10 years saw the band sort of fall from the genre’s pinnacle. But you know a band has left a positive legacy when a band starts to mimic you and your sound to a tee. And that’s what fellow North Carolinians Atten Ash have done.
2012 marked the debut album from Germany’s Revel in Flesh. Deathevokation sported an album cover that was an homage to Dismember’s Like an Ever Flowing Stream. The album is punishing from beginning to end with that classic brutal Swedish sound, which is something Revel in Flesh …hmm. revel’s in. 2013 saw the release of Manifested Darkness, an even darker and more brutal album than its predecessor. The end of 2014 Revel in Flesh punished worldwide audiences with their greatest album thus far-Death Kult Legions. Showing more maturity, atmosphere, melody, darkness as well as retaining their brutal edge, Revel in Flesh are on fire. Death Kult Legions was one of the best albums of 2014 and truly one of the best produced. If you enjoy all the classic death metal albums from 1988-1993, then there is no doubt Revel in Flesh needs to be in your collection.
Few bands have elicited as much vitriol from fans as Liturgy and frontman and creator, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix. From the now infamous transcendental black metal interview to black metal manifestos, the guy has been ripped to shred on internet message boards as well as memed to death. And that’s before the guy’s music is even in the picture. 2009’s Renihilation and 2011’s Aesthetica angered black metal pundits as they arguably shaped the current trend of so-called ‘hipster black metal’ that has swatted the hornet’s nest of black metal.
If you were to collect a bunch of well versed fans of death metal into a cage fight and force them come up with a solution to the following question: Which label is embracing us with some of the best death metal today? What could the answer be? Since it’s only a theoretical situation rather than a study funded by the UN, our best guess for numero uno, after duking it out ourselves, would be DARK DESCENT RECORDS. We shot a few questions at the primus motor Matt Calvert to find out what’s up.
Back in the late ’90s through the mid ’00s, The End Records were one of the more innovative and progressive metal labels around. They were releasing ground breaking metal albums from acts like Arcturus, Age of Silence, Scholomance, Green Carnation and Agalloch… the list goes on. In 2004 the label released a 3-song teaser EP from one of its own, Tomer Pink (who worked for The End Records) and his project Subterranean Masquerade. It also featured Jake Depolittle, Paul Kuhr of label mates Novembers Doom, Tino Losicco of label mates Epoch of Unlight and Jason William Walton of Agalloch, also label mates.
Since 2005 Ireland’s Primordial have become the indisputable kings of Irish metal. And not only that, you could argue that Primordial have become one of the biggest bands in metal, with past albums consistently littering year end lists whether its 2005’s watershed album, The Gathering Wilderness, 2007’s To The Nameless Dead or 2011’s Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand, the bands seems able to do no wrong in the eyes of the metal masses and media.
Call me a homer but I’m always a little excited when a local, or Missouri band does well. But pickings have been slim of late. I mean Scholomance, Anacrusis, Angel Corpse, Lye By Mistake; long gone. And promising young bands like Vampire Moooose, Harkonin or Recrudescence never made it further than local favorite. But canada’s Blast Head Records have managed to unearth, not one but two fine death/black metal acts from St Louis in Symphonic death metal act Eternium and blackened death mongers Tyranny Enthroned.
Omnivore is an Italian death/thrash band that released their self titled debut earlier this year on the up and coming killer Unspeakable Axe Records. It’s a short album, clocking in at 31 minutes with an instrumental intro and a blazing cover of ‘Arise’, from Sepultura. The 6 original tunes are classic death/thrash, from the 80’s scene. Think old school Sepultura/Dark Angel/Kreator. Vicious and very catchy. I really like this debut quite a lot. However due to some circumstances, that their vocalist/guitarist Pol, will talk about in this interview, the band is currently on hold
In 1991 I picked up the Nausea debut album Crime Against Humanity on cd and cassette, from Wild Rags Records. The music is best described as punk crusty grindcore and while it may not be the tightest played album to this day is one of my top 5 grind albums of all time. The catchiness is ridiculous and it’s one of the best in my opinion. 2014 has been a great year for Nausea in terms of releases. Their Willowtip records debut and second official record, Condemned to the System is my favorite grind album this year and on of the strongest releases this yr. It punishes from beginning to end. Lethal, brutal, grinding and groovy, this album destroys. Also last years World Struggle demo comp has been reissued this year on F.O.A.D. Records. All their demo material and bonus material and eps and splits all remastered with a killer booklet. You need this now.
Humiliation, coming out of the deep dense jungles of Malaysia, are one of my favorite bands. Graham Landers, owner of Deepsend Records, signed them less than 2 yrs ago and in 2013 they unleashed Turbulence from the Deep. This year they are back with another new one, Battalion-their 5th full length and it’s pummeling. For me they, along with Hail of Bullets, are the successors to Bolt Thrower. Humiliation are simplistic in formula, but heavier than most bands out there. Punishing. As heavy as 10 Sherman tanks with treads 10 stories high, destroying all in its path. The Humiliation war machine is a rumbling death tank of terror.
Anyone who has read my work over the years at this very site or my other past outlets know that I have a a Skogskyrkogården cemetery cross sized boner for anything Swedish death metal. And 2014 has been a banner year for the style and tone with killer releases from the likes of Brutally Deceased, Incarnated, Putereaon, Ending Quest, Just Before Dawn Entrails demo collection, just to name a few. There’s is something about that timeless guitar tone that keep on living despite its age as evidence by the endless revival of the style.
Let’s face it folks in the world of brutal death metal some bands come and go or are either handed so much to them early on that they do not have to do the real hard grunt work, that is sometimes needed, to keep a band together. Enter in Beheaded, from Malta. For over 2 decades Beheaded have been slinging their brutal take on the death metal genre. Through the struggles of band members leaving, people having family responsibilities-unable to tour, or whatever the case may be, bassist, David Cachia has been the glue to this wonderful brutal band.
To this day, Canadian thrash metal band, Sacrifice, have not only put out quality music, but have been one of my favorites in the extreme metal music scene. Ever since their incredible 1986 debut, Torment in Fire, they have been highly influential to the scene that they helped to create. They started out primarily as a death/thrash band, with even some black metal influence early on then developed into a speed/thrash band. Put on any one of their albums, Forward to Termination, Soldiers of Misfortune or Apocalypse Inside and you will hear a band that has created outstanding music that has aged extremely well. When the band put together the pieces and reformed and put out the 2009 The Ones I Condemn album I was skeptical as to how they would sound.
Several months ago, Lacerated Enemy Records sent me the Inquisition EP from UK brutal tech-death metal band, Cognizance. I was blown away by the production and song structures. This did not seem to be a band that had only one EP under their belts. Then the band released a two song promo EP and the songs continue along the same lines as on their first EP; brutal riffing, blast beats, guitar solos, pummeling double bass drums and bass twangs to snap your ribs outta your body! If you dig bands like The Faceless, Obscura, Deeds of Flesh, Rings of Saturn then you must check out Cognizance — an up and coming band looking to eventually put out their debut album…
Switzerland’s Eluveitie (‘The Helvetian’ in Gaulish for those interested) , have been around for a while now but it seem like only yesterday that they burst onto the folk metal scene with 2008s ‘Slania’. Despite having released their debut Spirit two years before it was ‘Slania’, released by Nuclear Blast that put them on the map, mixing melodic death metal and folk elements such as the hurdy gurdy, Mandola, Tin whistle, Low whistle, Gaita, Uilleann pipes and Bodhrán as well as a Celtic theme. And while the rap on the band was that they were simply Swedecore with folk elements the band has powered on to be one of the more consistent and recognizable (and still difficult to spell/type!) names in folk metal.
The harsh winters and glorious landscapes, in Romania, are not only hiding the hardworking citizens of this particular country, but are also known to house vampires. That’s right those long toothed bastards, feasting on the blood, of their human prey, in the wee hours of the morning, before the sun comes up. However for the last decade or so, the vampire population has been slowly diminishing. It seems that the brutality of Romania’s death metal act, Necrovile, has been the cause of this. Calin Paraschiv, Necrovile’s guitarist/vocalist/bassist, had enough of the vampire’s feasting on his fellow friends and family members, that he said ‘enough is enough’. In 2009 he unleashed The Pungency of Carnage, a brutal, yet primitive death metal debut, with his band Necrovile. This album crushed a lot of the vampire population, the music too brutal for them to endure.
Austria’s goat porn fetish-izing death metal kings have been around since 1992. 2014 will see the release of the band’s tenth studio album, after a bit of a delay. And while the longevity and consistency of arguably Austria’s most famed metal export after Pungent Stench, has never been questioned, Belphegor never seemed to get mentioned amid death metal’s upper echelon acts. Even with a 10 album legacy, the band just seems to get ignored.
Lacerated Enemy records sent me one of their releases, not too long ago, The Murderous Inception EP, from Australian one man death metal machine Gaped. The man behind Gaped is Ryan Huthnance. He programs the drums, plays the instruments and does the vocals. Whole nine yards. I found a lot of old school Cannibal Corpse influence on the EP, which also incorporates some original guitar tones and well placed groove sections. The music is mostly mid-paced to a fast death/thrash pace and I really enjoy this EP. Well produced and well written, simply, it kicks serious arse! Ryan is now working on the debut full-length for Gaped and I’m sure it will be just as great as the EP. So pick up the EP, fire up some Outback steak and blooming onions and read this interview with Ryan Huthnance, from Gaped.
To those in the know, the name Lord Worm is synonymous with death metal. Having been the pivotal mouthpiece for the first two seminal Cryptopsy albums, Blasphemy Made Flesh and None So Vile and then returning for the band’s 2005 effort, Once Was Not. For many he is the only Cryptopsy vocalist that mattered, especially in lieu of a revolving door of controversial and divisive vocalists that followed him.
Cognitive is a brutal technical death metal hailing from New Jersey. I met guitarist, Rob Wharton, through Internal Bleeding guitarist, Chris Pervelis, last year and Rob and I hit it off pretty quickly with our sarcastic sense of humor. He sent me their ep, The Horrid Swarm and I was an instant fan. I met up with him on their tour with Wormed, last fall, and was able to talk at length with him, regarding the band and everyday life. Cognitive put on a blistering set that night and it was awesome to see them crush! I even picked myself up a shirt, that has some vicious looking demon on it, with sharp teeth, giving a gruesome smile. Scares the hell outta my kids everytime I wear the shirt.
A while back I was chatting with Bob Bagchus from Soulburn, ex-Asphyx and I asked him, in an interview, about what it would be like for Asphyx to do a blast beat and than go into an abrupt doom laden part, that I thought it would be pretty interesting. He said he was not opposed to the idea, however he was fairly certain it probably would not happen. So than I get Philadelphia’s own, Trench Rot’s debut album Necronomic Warfare and was like the band is in my head, because they did just that. The heavy doom laden crushing bulldozer sound of Asphyx and Bolt Thrower is prevalent on the album, however than the band will go into a vicious blast beats. The timing of the tempo shifts is dramatic and really adds to the intensity of this excellent debut album.
Back in May of this year I made the 2 hour trek to the Riot Room in Kansas City, Missouri to see Paganfest V. This years iteration was the usual mix of big name headliners in Finland’s Korpiklaani and Turisas, a little different flair with Taiwans’s Chthonic and Kentuckian Winterhymn. Of course my main reason for attending was to see to two Finnish folk heavyweights, who rarely make it to the midwest, let alone Missouri.
Internal Bleeding-so where do I go with this intro…Well the band has been around for over 20 years, in various formats with various members. I bought their ’92 demo, Invocation of Evil, from guitarist Chris Pervelis, at a show back then. I was already friends with drummer Bill Tolley and saw IB countess times in NY opening up for a lot of bands. Chris was the epitome of the DIY mentality and his passion for the scene and IB was and still is undeniable. This was one of my favorite demos, when I packed my gear and left for college and cranked this sucker all the time. Imagine that graduating in ’94 with a Bachelor’s Degree and than seeing local record store, Slipped Disc promoting an IB flyer about them seeking a new singer. They put me through hell in the practice sessions, just wanting me to get better but also seeing if I was the right fit and it turned out I was. I was in IB from ’94-’97, played countless shows and toured with Immolation and Six Feet Under throughout the U.S. and Canada. I was on the first 2 IB albums, Voracious Contempt and The Extinction of Benevolence. We saw a lot of stuff together, including a wrongful multi million dollar civil lawsuit that was eventually thrown out but took a huge toll on us. The period I was with IB was some of the greatest moments of my life, meeting fans, being best friends with my fellow band mates and conquering cities and having a blast with the bands. Little did we know all these years later how IB would influence a generation of bands. IB put their stamp on what is now called slam death metal.