Songs for the Damned

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So back in April I took my annual trip to Lawrence, Kansas to witness a pre chosen metal show, drink some beers, watch hippies and eat at the Pita Pit. Differing from the last two trips, where Between the Buried and Me were the headliner, this year’s show was a varied bag featuring The Contortionist, Conducting From the Grave, Fleshgod Apocalpyse, Carnifex and headliners All Shall Perish. The two bands I was most interested in were All Shall Perish who released one of deathcore’s best albums in 2006’s The Price of Existence, my favorite album of that year, and Fleshgod Apocalypse, who released my favorite album of 2011, Agony. Interviews with both were set up, so after a growler of ale in a dingy back alley like a hobo, I finally got to visit with All Shall Perish guitarist Ben Orum and vocalist Eddie Hermida. [image courtesy of Jeffrey Krenzer].

So I’m excited to see you guys. I’ve been following you since the Amputated Vein release of Hate. Malice. Revenge back in 2003, before you signed to Nuclear Blast. My first question is how is this tour going? It’s close to being done isn’t it?

Eddie: Yeah it’s been good. It’s met all our expectations. Every single market we’ve hit, we’ve enjoyed the turnouts and enjoyed all these people coming out to see us play for an hour and 10 minutes.

That’s good to hear, welcome to being a headliner right?  Eddie, if memory serves me correct, before being in All Shall Perish, you were in a band called Gun Metal Grey right? When did you join All Shall Perish?

Eddie: I joined in 2005 officially, but didn’t release a record with me as the vocalist until 2006’s The Price of Existence.

Got it. So how’s it been with this bill? It’s largely an American deathcore styled bill with Conducting from the Grave, you guys and Carnifex. Then you’ve got a more progressive band like The Contortionist and finally a brutal technical, Italian death metal band in Fleshgod Apocalypse. How has the chemistry been between the bands?

Ben: We are all here for the same purpose and that’s just to play the music we love and maybe learn a little from each,  we respect each others craft. Everyone has been very easy going and everyone gets along so it’s been really great.

In my opinion, The Price of Existence was your real breakthrough album, fair opinion?

Eddie: I think so.  That was my first record with the band. I personally felt like I had a lot to prove. I loved Hate. Malice. Revenge, I saw the band play local shows, so when I got an opportunity I attacked it full bore, and I think that comes out on the album. Add (guitarist) Chris Storey joining the fold and it really changed the spectrum and sound of All Shall Perish on that album.

That’s a great point. Chris wasn’t on Hate. Malice. Revenge, and all of a sudden; more melody, more shredding and more technicality…

Eddie: I don’t agree with that really. I thought there was lots of melody on Hate. Malice Revenge. That’s what drew me to them, that they would go from these slammy death metal riffs to these more open melodic parts.

OK, is it fair to say then that Chris really added to that then?

Eddie: Absolutely. However, I do feel that when Chris and myself came into the picture we changed the gears of the band and it hasn’t changed since. We kept that sound. I really don’t feel that The Price of Existence flipped things around from Hate. Malice Revenge, I think the band was headed in that direction and we just helped it come along faster.

So The Price of Existence is a killer record that really put you guys on the map, but then in 2008 you released Awaken the Dreamersand while I don’t want to sit here and tell you it’s a step back to your face, but it was, and the critics seemed to think so, but then you come roaring back with This is Where it Ends, which simply rips. Talk to me a little about that process and the difference between Awaken the Dreamers and the new album.

Ben: Awaken the Dreamers was an interesting cycle/process, because of what was going on in our personal lives. Some of us were going through some hard times, family stuff. Some people weren’t  present to contribute. Some had more time than others to contribute.  And that all comes through on the album. That was a fucking crazy time. I look at all of the albums as a time in my life, that album (Awaken the Dreamers) defines that era of my life when it came out

Was Chris Storey on that album?

Ben: Yes. But he left the band right after it came out.

When you look back at Awaken the Dreamers  and apparently what a crazy time it was — any regrets about that album?

Ben: Nope. I think I wish Eddie and Mike (Tiner, bassist) were more there for the recording and writing.

How so?

Eddie: Well it was more that Matt (Kuykendall, drummer) was more forcefully present in the vocals and writing process. We worked well together on The Price of Existence, but on Awaken the Dreamers we worked much more separately. He would write songs including the vocals, and I would just record them, then I would write songs and sing the vocals. I was much more detached from the songs on Awaken the Dreamers.

So it’s safe to say that Awaken the Dreamers is a ‘disjointed’ writing and recording effort compared to The Price of Existence?

Eddie: Absolutely. You can hear and feel on that record that everyone wasn’t getting along. When you don’t get along personally it comes out in the music. Music  is a very gay way of copulating — both sides have to be into it, or it just doesn’t work [laughs]

Ben: I wish that our drummer at the time was different, the way he was at the time was really not a positive working environment.

Eddie: I still love the record though. There’s some great songs on that record.

I think “Black Gold Reign” is a great song. One of the better songs in your whole discography. But it definitely stands out on Awaken the Dreamers.

Eddie: That’s right. The whole album is like that. It’s not really a complete record, there’s bits, more bits and pieces than anything else we had put out.

So back to the new album which absolutely shreds. It sounds like a very cathartic album.

Ben: This is the album that should have come out instead of Awaken the Dreamers.

Eddie: The fire and intensity that we had on This is Where it Ends is what we wanted for Awaken the Dreamers. It’s the fire and intensity we want to have going into every record. We were a unit and we were ready to take over and it’s the mentality we have now and going forward.

Was it very difficult writing an album without Chris Storey, who in my opinion really brought some special guitar work and solos to your sound?

Ben: It was a 1000 percent easier. He was a very difficult person to work with.

To be completely honest, not that you guys give a shit about my opinion, but , I really didn’t like Awaken the Dreamers, and thought you guys were on the decline and going to sell out and be a has-been-band, but along comes the new album and it’s a real scorcher. It shows you guys are not going anywhere. How does it feel to make  a comeback with such an intense killer record?

Eddie: First, we absolutely do care what people like you think and say about our music. We put it out there and when people don’t like it, it hurts a little bit . But to answer the question, this record, we came at with an intensity we should have had for every record.

Ben: I felt the difference between the Awaken the Dreamers and This is Where it Ends is that on Awaken the Dreamers the songs were lifeless and flat. But on this album we wanted  to be invoking emotions, either make someone flip out or cry because it’s so beautiful. We want people to feel something or feel the best they have felt when listening to the record.

So here’s the big question: Do you prefer the new record over The Price of Existence?

Eddie: Oh man, I can’t say that. I can’t compare records. it’s like comparing favorite children. The Price of Existence has more of a personal atonement and fulfillment. There’s never going to be a record that reaches that level of fulfillment.  That record didn’t sell as well as other releases, it did only a thousand the first week opposed to the new album selling 8500, but naturally that’s how it goes, BUT, I mean The Price of Existence will always be the record where I feel “I did it! I joined a band and made a difference and incorporated myself into a record and band”.

Ben, being a founding member when you look at the fact you’ve released four albums, three on Nuclear Blast records and just released arguably your best record — all  in a flash in the pan genre with bands who break up and rotate members every other day, how does that make you feel to be so consistent?

Ben: It’s incredible. I think a lot of bands look to us to see what’s next musically and where things should be taken. Not to take credit for the genre, but we were one of the first bands to get this sound going, The Price of Existence pioneered a lot of bands’ sound. Now we are traveling all over the world, playing slamming death metal and it’s a lot of fun.

Talk to me a little about the deathcore tag or label. It’s almost become a dirty word in the metal scene. I mean I’m a 40 year old, old school death metal guy that grew up on the classics like Obituary and Morbid Angel. On a base level I like the music, deathcore, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around ‘the scene’ and the whole fashion show it’s become.

Ben: That’s a tough one. It has become a ‘scene’ and a look and fashion and even age is a big factor. We’ve always tried to stay on the side and watch it and just focus on the music.

Eddie: Like Ben was saying I don’t think Ive ever rocked a swoop haircut, or worn skinny jeans or anything like that. But these scene kids are 13, 14 years old and have no idea whats going on. It is a scene, but death metal is a scene too. But what needs to happen, is guys like you, instead of crossing your arms and looking down on these guys and saying ‘fuck these guys’, you need to take them aside and play them some Morbid Angel or some Death and the metal that inspired you. We are that band for them, but they need to hear the bands that inspire me and you. I give them credit for looking different and not giving a fuck though. I don’t give a fuck, I just look different doing it.

Ben: But if someone doesn’t check out All Shall Perish because we are labelled ‘deathcore’ — that’s a problem and people need to open up their ears and just accept what sounds good, and not listen to something because of a tag.

Talking of those classic bands, where do you see yourselves in 15-10 years? Are we going to be talking about All Shall Perish and their legacy like Morbid Angel now.

Ben: So long as we don’t put put an album like they just put out! [laughs]

 Eddie: I dunno man, we’ll see how long my voice lasts.

Does deathcore itself have the ability to stick around and be as revered as death metal is now over 20 years later?

Ben: Elements of it can. Look at thrash metal. It died off and now it came back. The same with movies being remade 20 years later. Everything has a cycle and maybe deathcore will die, evolve and resurface 20 years from now in some form.

Speaking of evolving, what’s your opinion on some of these techno deathcore crossover bands like Attack Attack and Eskimo Callboy etc?

Ben: Oh, Rise Records bands right?  They play that music to get pussy that’s all it’s for.

Does it work for you guys?

Ben: I’m married, so no

Eddie: We are real deathcore so we get none of the girls, and none of the dudes.

 So what bands are you guys listening to right now?

Eddie: I just started listening to this band called Vildjharta, I’m really liking the dudes we are touring with The Contortionist. I’m enjoying some of these new bands paying homage to Meshuggah.

Ben: I’m currently really into bands like Alcest  and Agalloch. I also listen to mostly post-rock and some of the old stuff. I like to throw on some old Sepultura and go for a 4 mile run.

Well guys, we’ve got some more beer to drink and you’ve got a show to get ready for. Many thanks for your time to talk to me tonight.

Eddie: Thanks! I hope we gave you enough good stuff to use.


  1. Commented by: stiffy

    That’s awesome Erik! Great interview. Bet you had a blast.

  2. Commented by: Plasma

    And Awaken the Dreamers is my favourite ASP (and deathcore) album to date. Each to their own.

  3. Commented by: Cal

    Nice interview, didn’t realize you were a old ass like me. ASP is probably one the better ‘deathcore’ bands although they sound like a more brutal mid-90’s In Flames to me.

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