The Essence of 1991

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Razorback Records keeps picking winners from the nose of death. Said pickings would include Condemned Cathedral from Texas’ (Cooper or Dallas, depending on your geographic orientation) Decrepitaph. The trio’s self-described “death metal the ancient way” is filled to the rim with dirt-caked and pummeling, yet fundamentally structured and tuneful, death metal that takes its cues from the doomy side of the genre (Incantation, Asphyx, etc). And yes, zombies are involved. Drummer/lyricist/composer Elektrokutioner spills his guts about Decrepitaph.

 

Let’s get a little background/biography action going. From what cesspool did the seeds of Decrepitaph germinate?  

I was drumming for a thrash band called Skulleton in 2004 and I really wanted to do my own old style death metal project, so I formed Decrepitaph as a solo project, worked on some demo songs, and released a CD in 2006. It was just meant for fun basically, but it obviously has become much more than that. 

How many names did you go through before deciding on Decrepitaph? 

That was actually the first name I came up with. I was writing some lyrics to one of the first songs (that I ended up scrapping) and I wrote the words “decrepit” and “epitaph” next to each other and my brain just kinda mentally pushed them together to form Decrepitaph. I knew that name was a keeper because it wasn’t something anyone else was going to come up with and I wouldn’t have to worry about another band randomly picking it. 

So you released material (demos, etc) prior to Condemned Cathedral then. 

I did the Grotesque Dwellings demo CD by myself in 2006, then I moved from Massachusetts to Texas in 2007 and I began a hunt for new musicians. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to find, but I found a guitarist that was really into the old style of death metal and I suggested we use the name and keep the band going with him on guitar/vocals and me on drums. After jamming together for three or four months, we recorded eight new songs for the Ancient Death Metal promo and things just sorta took off from there! 

Was Razorback Records a first choice for a record label all along? You must have known that your sound was well suited to the label’s roster. 

Well, it wasn’t my intent on doing the band just for that, but after we did the ADM promo and I started talking to Billy, he seemed really into what we were doing and I’m personally a long time fan of Razorback, so when he offered to help us get the album out there, we went for it! I think with the new releases Razorback has done in the past year, we fit in there more now than ever as well.

The CD booklet lists a Cooper, TX mailing address, but Myspace notes Dallas. What gives? 

I live in a really small town outside Dallas, but for the MySpace page, no one is going to know where the hell Cooper is, so I figured I’d put Dallas. It’s basically because Texas is so big and at least if they know we’re from the Dallas area we won’t be getting e-mails about playing shows in Houston every weekend or something. 

How did you decide on your individual member names, Elektrokutioner (percussion), Sinworm (guitar/vocals), and Daterape (bass guitar)? 

I made up Elektrokutioner years ago when I did a little crust/punk demo by myself and I liked the name so I just kept it for myself. Sinworm is the name of the guitarist’s solo band so he went with that. I have no idea how Daterape came to be his name. You’d have to ask him [laughs]. 

It is so very important to get a certain raw and morbid tone when recording an album like Condemned Cathedral, which I think you’ve achieved magnificently. You actually recorded it yourself. Are you pleased with the sound you got? What is the key to recording death metal like this?

Yeah, I did the recording myself on fairly cheap gear in my house. I’m very pleased with the way it came out! I absolutely hate this new wave of death metal where the drums sound like tin cans and the guitars are all boosted mids and everything sounds fake, not heavy, and most importantly, not morbid! It’s very hard to capture the vibes of older death metal with newer recording gear and technology, but we are trying our best. We will always have a primitive and putrid sound for sure. There is no “trick” really, it’s just you have to know what sound you want to get and just get it. I’ve been listening to that morbid style of death metal for 19 years now, so I have a pretty good idea in my head of what I want.

Well, you do mention specifically in the booklet “No worthless drum triggers used on this album.” Not a fan of drum triggers, eh? 

No! Nothing else has contributed to the demise of the death metal aesthetic more than triggers. Every new band thinks you must have triggers! Drums do not sound like that! I use an old 80’s Pearl Export kit with big booming toms and a deep wooden snare that actually sounds like real drums. I hear so many new bands with those triggered sounds and it just sounds like pop music to me. I hate it and I’ll never use them for anything I do. 

You had the mixing/mastering done by Patrick Bruss (Crypticus). Did his work have a big impact on the final product? 

Oh yeah, totally. The album would not sound like it does if it wasn’t for Patrick’s contributions. He knows the ins and outs of the mixing and mastering and he has a lot of great software to do it too. I don’t have any of it and don’t want to learn how to use it even if I got it [laughs]. I’ve heard a few things he’s mixed and a ton of stuff he’s mastered and he is really great at it, so he was the obvious choice for us. He just mixed our 7″ EP that’s coming on Doomentia Records as well. 

In the CD booklet for Condemned Cathedral are the words “Death metal the ancient way.” What to you is death metal the ancient way? 

It’s the simplicity, the vibe, the atmosphere, the feeling, the whole package of doing it for the right reasons of just making cool music. It’s not about BPMs or how low the singer is or how many notes you can cram into a solo. None of that can ever replaced how the masters from the mid 80s to the early 90s did it and helped shape this whole genre to begin with. Death metal the ancient way to me is heavy, primitive, and full of an eerie atmosphere, like watching an old 70’s horror flick on VHS. 

As I mentioned my review of Condemned Catheral on this site, I was impressed with how you kept the arrangements interesting, even on the longer tracks. Was this a conscious thought as you were writing and recording the album? 

Nah, not really. Our songs are really simple and I like having repetition in there a lot to actually make it a song and not just random riffs stuck together. Sometimes I think that that is something that will make them boring to other people, but it seems to be the opposite, as after hearing the songs a couple times, you can easily tell them apart and you remember the songs. One of the things I don’t like about newer bands is they think putting 20,984 riffs in a song somehow makes it better, but it ends up just sounding like a bunch of riffs with no direction. I don’t really have to try to write this way because I play the riffs and drums like I would like to hear them played, so if a part drags on too much, we change it. I think what keeps the songs moving the most is the tempo changes as well. 

“Crawling out from the Crypt” is a good example of that; it’s nine minutes long, but doesn’t get boring. 

When I wrote that one, I just felt that would be a good album closer. It’s something you’ll remember after hearing it and you know it’s the last song when you get to it. I wasn’t sure what people would think of that song since it’s a little slower and longer than our other material, but I’ve probably gotten more comments about that song than anything else on the album. People really seem to like that as a closer, so I’m happy about that. 

That track also features backing vocals from Billy Nocera, Sly (Fondlecorpse), Ghoat (Father Befouled), and Leper Lasse (Hooded Menace). How did you come to invite all these folks  (aside from Billy maybe) to lay down vocals on the track? 

I talk to Ghoat and Lasse online on almost a daily basis, so that was an easy choice to get them involved. I had never talked to Sly before, but he was working on the layout of the CD with me and I asked him if he would like to be included and he was into it! Getting Billy to do vocals was easy because all I had to do was buy him some Florida lobsters and he said sure! [laughs] 

I’m rather found of the latest Father Befouled record for whatever that’s worth. Sorry, the ADHD kicked in… 

Me too! I can’t wait to get this split 7″ with them out this spring! 

Actually, the more I think about it, you got quite a bit of help from the Razorback family on this release. Billy wrote some lyrics, Sly helped with the layout, etc. 

I asked Billy to contribute some lyrics since me and him write a lot of lyrics for Hooded Menace, Revolting, and other stuff as well. He knows the style we want and he sent me some lyrics and I wrote some of my own and worked them into the song. Sly does most of the Razorback CD layouts, so I sent him all the stuff and worked with him on it. He is a pro and I hate doing layouts, so we took advantage of being able to work with him. Sly rules and we appreciate his efforts! 

On the subject of lyrics, I was listening to Revolting’s Dreadful Pleasures and as I was perusing the lyrics I noticed that you are credited with lyrics for five of the songs! How did this collaboration come about? Billy has some in there too. 

Well basically, Rogga didn’t want to write any of the lyrics for the album, so he asked me to do some. Rogga and I have a project together called Foreboding, so we already knew each other through that. We ended up picking a bunch of total cheeseball 80s horror flicks and I watched them all again in a day or so and wrote the lyrics and sent them to Rogga! It was basically the same thing for my Hooded Menace lyrics too. Lasse didn’t want to write anything for the album, so I did a couple for that as well. I also did some for Offal for their next album too. 

How important is groove to the music of Decrepitaph? Many of these songs come with some seriously sickening grooves. 

Groove is very important, as long as it’s not pathetic slam garbage. I like going from faster parts to slower parts to chugging parts and keeping the songs going based on that. I would say all the different styles we mix in are important, but if we didn’t have down-tuned chugging parts, it wouldn’t really sound like Decrepitaph much anymore. 

You also like incorporating those doomy, Incantation-esque parts, don’t you? I’m thinking of a track like “Worship the Dead,” as one example. 

Yeah, that is probably the most important thing to making us sound like we do. It is important to play slow to create a dark atmosphere and it’s the perfect template for leads and solos as well. I like those simple doom parts mixed in with the faster sections to keep things interesting. Plus, most of my favorite death metal bands are usually in the doom/death category, so it’s my natural inclination to write parts like that myself.

Do you prefer the trio format? In other words, is Decrepitaph a trio by design or would you have preferred a second guitarist? 

A second guitarist would make things a lot easier, but we haven’t found anyone that has the dedication to do it, so it’s basically all on Sinworm’s shoulders. We aren’t really a touring band or anything, so only having one guitar isn’t a huge handicap for us most of the time. The few times we will play live, we will mostly focus on the songs without solos/leads to keep it authentic to the album sound. 

Can you ever imagine writing an album without at least one song about a Zombie? 

Nope! One of the tracks on our upcoming EP is called “The Undead Shrines,” which sorta helps continue that theme. 

Who are you favorite bands/albums on the Razorback roster? 

Well, recently I really like the Hooded Menace, Crypticus, and Revolting albums a lot. I basically like everything they’ve put out in the past couple years though. The label keeps getting cooler, and that isn’t easy to do after 10 years. 

Who are your favorite bands/albums in general? 

Just so this list isn’t absurdly long, I’ll just stick to some band names and just base it around death metal to keep it simple: Asphyx, Mythic, Decomposed (UK), Winter, Autopsy, old Grave, Incantation, Sororicide, Necros Christos, Moondark, Divine Eve, Hellhammer, Eternal Solstice, Sadistic Intent, and tons more. See the doom/death preference? That’s why Decrepitaph sounds like it does! 

If you had to pick one band that had the biggest impact on (1) you personally and (2) on the band in general, who would it be in each case? 

Asphyx and Asphyx! Anyone that’s heard our album and is an Asphyx fan will probably not be shocked by that answer one bit! Just like how people said Black Sabbath wrote every good metal riff already’ well, Asphyx wrote every good death metal riff already and we’re just building off the foundation that they pioneered. Thanks to the Internet, I’ve gotten to become friends with Bob from Asphyx and he is a fan of Decrepitaph, which means a lot to me. In the early 90s listening to The Rack and Last One on Earth, I never thought I would be part of a project of a similar style and that was actually liked by the members of the band as well. It’s like a dream come true. We hope to share the stage with them at some point and I’m excited to hear their new album. 

Any final words of wisdom? 

Thanks for this loooooooooong interview [laughs]! Anyone interested in checking out Decrepitaph can do so at www.decrepitaph.com or www.myspace.com/decrepitaph. I’d like to let everyone know we have a demo discography CD coming out soon on Poveglia Records, a 7″ on Doomentia Records, a split 7″ with Father Befouled on Archasm, and we’re releasing, our Condemned Cathedral album on vinyl LP through Xtreem Music, as well as a new full length album all coming out in 2009! We also have limited long sleeve shirts available from our page as well as CDs too. Thanks to everyone that helps support us and keeps the flame of ancient death metal alive!

[http://www.decrepitaph.com]

[http://www.myspace.com/decrepitaph]

[http://www.razorbackrecords.com/]

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