Cannibalistic Future

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Embalmer is a brutal death metal band from Cleveland, Ohio that have been around since 1989. They have gone through band members coming and going, going on hiatus, but most of they are a major influence on the brutal U.S. death metal scene, as well as many overseas bands associated in this particular genre. When I joined Internal Bleeding, in 1994, their Rotting Remains demo became one of my favorite demos of all time. Beyond brutal, fantastically brutal vocals and just well played extreme underground death metal. Back in the 90’s we played with Embalmer many times live, and they were one of the heaviest and best brutal bands that I was fortunate enough to be on the same bill with them.

Paul Gorefiend has been their singer since 2012, when legendary singer, Rick Fleming left the band. I remember Paul, from the 90’s and he is an outstanding supporter of bands, fans and the scene.  He has taken on his frontman duties with gusto and he has a super brutal voice.  The band has gone through their ups and downs over the years and hopefully we are seeing this band gel now, more than ever, and that they continue putting out some of the best underground death metal out there.  Look for their new album sometime in 2013/2014 “The Apocalyptic Bloodshower”-it will destroy!! So dispose of the corpses in your backyard first , then sit down and read this amazingly in-depth interview with Embalmer frontman, Paul Gorefiend…

Explain to us your past musical experience, in the death metal scene, as well as how you became involved with singing for Embalmer and how it is working out for you?

Hey Frank!!  First of all thanks for the interview, it’s great to speak with you bro! I got started off early into metal when I was still in elementary school.  My older cousin got me into stuff like Ozzy, Black Sabbath, and a lot of Classic rock + 80s hair metal.  Soon after, I discovered Slayer + Megadeth, and from there always strived to find faster, heavier music.  Having heard Slayer first, I grew to HATE Metallica from the beginning.  And I mean all of it… Lars is the worst drummer in metal history, and to me, Metallica was total pussy music that lacked the aggression of a lot of the German, Bay Area + NY area thrash bands I was discovering.

Naturally, I moved on to death/thrash and death metal, and was fortunate to see a lot of great bands in the heyday of the’ 90s. I rode BMX actively back then, and the place I used to jump my bike was right behind ParmaSr.High School.  Parma was the unofficial metal capital of the Cleveland area back then, and I was born there.  At the time, there were a lot of metalheads, stoners, thrashers + general freaks who would hang out back there after school let out, as well as a local arcade called “space invaders” and mix with the people riding bikes + skating.  You know… the usual; smoking weed, drinking, banging chicks in the woods, and blasting metal hahaha.  This gave me a chance to mix with some people who were about 3-5 years older than me who got me into the more underground stuff, and opened my eyes to the world of demos and trading.  Cleveland has always had a great music scene, and at the time, most shows were “All Ages” (I had a fake ID anyway for the others haha)… I was fortunate to experience most of the great touring bands who came through Cleveland as well as the classic ultra-underground shows as well..  (I remember watching you with Internal Bleeding before “Voracious Contempt” came out at the Red Eye Lounge for Cleveland Deathfest + again w/ Immolation, etc.)

It wasn’t long until I became fascinated with the sickest, heaviest, darkest music I could find.  I enjoyed discovering new bands, writing to them, corresponding, and reading ‘zines.  The first thing I would do is flip over the demo, CD, LP etc. and look at the shirts the members were wearing to try to figure out what bands they were.  Also would always read the “thanks list” and try to pick out bands I hadn’t heard of.  After a while, my parents started getting overwhelmed with the amount of packages and mail arriving for me every day hahaha!  I spent many years as a rabid fan, and found a couple like minded people at school to jam with.  I did vocals and bass briefly in a band called Egrimony/Emaciate.  Just a typical basement death metal band letting it flow…  Played 1 show that I’m glad not a lot of people remember or attended haha!!

Unfortunately, I’m the only one who didn’t “grow out” of this music, and became frustrated when other members moved on to “industrial” music, and other weak bullshit.  I’ll never forget showing up on “band photo day” and seeing a couple of the guys with Marilyn Manson shirts on (I of course made them change haha)… From there, I knew my days were numbered, and shortly after quit the band and went back to being a devoted fan.  After finishing college, I returned and did a couple scattered live performances on vocals for my friends in DECREPIT, when they couldn’t locate their singer Rob Molzan.  After a while I got into promoting/booking shows, and focused on that until joining EMBALMER.  I had always been friends with the various lineups of the band, and helped them out in a lot of ways before I was even a member… Traveling to shows with them, designing shirts, booking gigs, etc.  In addition, Brian Baxter and I have always been great friends, and I used to also assist him with Ablated Records + the Ohio Deathfests he did early on.  With him moving to guitar in Embalmer, and my previous friendship with Roy + the guys, it was a no brainer for me to join the band.  I also knew 90% of the lyrics up-front, and was confident with some work, could pull off the great vocals laid down by previous frontmen Toby Wulff and Rick Fleming.

How was it to learn the songs and do you have the entire Embalmer catalog all memorized?

I have all the songs we play live memorized. Learning them was really not difficult at all for me to be honest. As I said, I already knew 90% of the “into the oven”, “rotting remains” and “blood everywhere” material from being a life-long fan, and hanging out at many practices over the years. I already had a strong, powerful main vocal (influenced by Craig Pillard, Will Rahmer, etc) but worked hard to incorporate all the tortured shrieks and gurgles that people expect to hear when listening to Embalmer.  The fact that I knew the material, was longtime personal friends with all the members, and could pull off all the vocals made the decision very easy for everyone.  I actually only had two weeks to prepare for my first show—which was booked before I joined—and it went off without a hitch, and without canceling. [It] definitely would not have been possible if I was not already totally familiar with the material.

From that point, we have stayed EXTREMELY active, with an almost non-stop show schedule.  At this point, our average set-length is 15-18 songs, and especially now that we have toured, I have gotten a ton of practice and experience developing my skills not only as a vocalist, but as a front-man in general. As far as the “13 faces of death” material, we have permanently scrapped those songs from our live set except “They Can Smell Our Blood”.  That one took a couple days to learn since it is one of the faster songs lyrically, but I got it nailed down, and it is actually one of our favorite songs to play.  The next most challenging song for me to learn was another fast one “Cannibalistic Future” off the 2012 promo.  Once that one was learned, I went in the studio and replaced the vocal tracks with my own, in order to have something that represented the current lineup of the band. This became the updated 2013 promo we have been spreading in the underground.

How are the new songs developing, what are they about, when will a new album be out and what label will it be on? Any ideas for cover art and how does the new music stack up to the past Embalmer tunes?

Writing for the new album is already complete, Frank!  Right now we have 11 sick, brand new songs along with an outro.  This album will be all NEW material, with no re-recorded old songs, samples or filler!  We are very excited about the new songs, and have been playing many of them in our recent live sets and west coast/southern tour this year.  Crowd response and feedback has been overwhelmingly sick!!!  We felt it was important for the new material to adhere to the classic elements that shaped the Embalmer sound in the ’90s, while not feeding into the whole “retro” trend that has swept the scene of late.

We went back to the basics, and drew from the original influences that helped shape the band 24 years ago… Terrorizer, Autopsy, Impetigo, old Paradise Lost, Disembowelment, etc.  The grinds are faster, the doomy parts are slower, and overall we think we achieved the vision of absolute audio horror that we were aiming for… So far the fans who have seen us live, agree! As for what label, we are undecided right now.  Hells Headbangers is re-releasing “There was Blood Everywhere” on Gatefold LP + Picture Disc very soon.  As for the new album, we have gotten plenty of label interest and offers, given how active the band is these days, but honestly don’t know how much to trust labels in this current market.  We definitely aren’t pressed, and will take the time to make a good, well thought out decision, as to not repeat past mistakes. If we did go with a label, it would be a mid-major, as there is truly is not much a standard underground label can offer us that we can’t do ourselves.

Brian and I have tons of connections from years of involvement in the scene, and we are well versed in graphic design, production + promotion. We can design our own layouts, print + distribute our own CD’s/LP’s etc, design and print our own shirts/merchandise, as well as book our own shows + tours.  A label could get us some increased distribution and advertising maybe, but at what cost?  We are adamant about owning our own material and not signing our hard work over to another entity.  The way it is looking, we may print the first 1000 ourselves, then work out licensing deals for various regions of the world and different formats (vinyl, cassettes, etc).  Of course we are entertaining all offers, but I don’t see any scenario where we would sign the rights of our music away to get on a larger label.  Underground for life!!!

How is the Ohio scene these days? Were you welcomed into Embalmer, by the fans or was it a tough transition for you to be accepted?

The Ohio scene is active as ever! There are so many great shows coming through still, with some pretty solid turnouts and support. The clubs have been booking a lot of the agency tours, and we have some dedicated promoters bringing in the underground’s finest, such as me + Brian w/Gorefiend Promotions, Dan Baker w/ Graveyard Promotions, Jim Konya w/ NunSlaughter/Schnauzer, Bill Peters w/ Auburn Records/WUJC and others!

Overall, we are very lucky to live in a city that is a regular stop on most US tour routes, and has the club availability and support to make it happen! Have to give a big shout-out to the metal-friendly clubs in town like The Foundry, Peabody’s  Downunder, Now That’s Class, The Spitfire/Hulett, The Beachland, + The Phantasy!  If you feel like paying an arm and a leg for drinks, there is also the House of Blues!  As for being accepted in the band, the fans have welcomed me with open arms so far!  There has been NOTHING but positive feedback, and people really have been loving what they have been hearing. I’ve heard no negative feedback through the grapevine even, and many people say my vocals are a step up especially in terms of depth and power.  I have the highest respect for Rick + Toby’s vocals and their previous accomplishments with the band, and I am just trying to breathe in some new life and keep the gory legacy grinding forward!  So far it seems like the fans understand that, and the support has been really overwhelming!!!

Any summer plans for touring and how full time is this band for you and the rest of the guys?

Well Frank, we actually just returned home from a 3-week US tour of the west coast and south!  It was the first extensive tour in the band’s history and was an important step towards moving Embalmer to the next level!  Playing live is what we live for, and it was so cool to perform in areas the band had never been before, and interact with so many fans and cool people who have waited to see us live for years.  The crowd response was unbelievable, and we were honored to meet so many personal friends and old pen-pals/traders out there we never thought we’d get a chance to see in person.  The tour kicked off at the Las Vegas Deathfest, then moved on to multiple dates from northern to southern Cali, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.  This lineup has really been on fire, and we have been super active on the show-front in general!  We have had the honor of playing SO many sick shows this year, with some of our favorite bands such as Rottrevore, Incantation, Derketa, Deceased, Master, Malignancy, Mausoleum and more.  We take the band very seriously (while having fun of course), and are driven and motivated more than ever!!!  We all work day jobs, but are able to plan for tours, and make at least 1-2 major tours per year, and all the regional “weekend warrior” trips we can possibly commit to!!!

What do you do outside the band for work and for fun?

For work, I have been a hospital administrator for the Federal Government for the past 13 years.  I keep my professional + private lives VERY separate…  The success I have achieved in my professional life enable me to indulge fully in my personal interests.  I am fortunate to have hundreds of vacation hours where I can stay paid even while on tour!  The band affairs keep me pretty occupied and busy these days too, in addition to the shows I book in Cleveland w/ Gorefiend Promotions.  When I get free time, I love doing things outside… Going to the beach at Lake Erie, taking my dog hiking in the metroparks, visiting friends, distributing flyers, browsing 2nd hand record stores, trading, and of course plenty of partying, drinking and nights at the bar!!!  While many people in my age group and older have settled down or are beginning to, I still maintain my “fast lane” lifestyle and can’t get enough traveling, socializing, partying and jamming.  Living the underground death metal dream right now you could say hahaha

How do you think you will help Embalmer expand on their sound and how do you think you will be able to get better with your technique? How do you work on your vocals, do you do any exercises, etc..?

I work hard on my vocals, and usually begin warming up my voice while the band before us is playing at live gigs.  As for exercises, I get plenty of reps in since we keep a dedicated practice schedule as a band at least 2-3 times per week.  It is important to me that the vocals I put down in Embalmer are respectful to the old vocalists and the foundation they laid, with my own style thrown in.  Personally, I HATE when bands go from having a brutal, low vocalist, to some higher, mid-range, enunciated, mainstream, sounding frontman.  So many over the years, and lots of disappointment!!!  Total pet peeve… nothing pisses me off more (except bands who abandon their sick logos for a TEXT font)!!!!  With us, it is not so much about expanding the sound, as it is about keeping the sound credible, and in-line with the original elements of the band.  We don’t want to be a “retro band” though as I stated, so the best way I could describe our current band vision is keeping true to the old sound but with an updated vibe.  Not reinventing the wheel, just putting new tread on the tires.  Roy has never been more motivated than he is now, and he will tell you this is the best lineup of Embalmer he has jammed in, and means it.  Fucker has been blasting his ass off!!!!  Couple that with Brian’s sick, proficient writing on guitar, and you end up with a product that has the same elements of the old material, except the grinds are FASTER + more aggressive, the doomy parts are SLOWER and more agonizing, and the overall sound is back to being morbid and creepy, as opposed to straight Cannibal Corpse-ish splatter if you know what I mean…  The musicianship has definitely been stepped up to a much higher degree without becoming a boring, modern “tech death” band!!!!

Name your influences and musical inspirations. What is currently in your iPod now, besides Fat Joe Da Gangsta?

Haha!  My main influences are probably very recognizable in my vocals…  Obviously I am HEAVILY influenced by the classic bottom-end vocalists like Craig Pillard, Will Rahmer,  Chris Gamble (early), and of course the previous vocalists in Embalmer; Rick Fleming and Toby Wulff.  As for what’s in my iPod, NOTHING!  I don’t own one… I’m still one of those hard headed fucks who buy albums, CDs and don’t download.  I still carry a duffle bag full of 50-100 cds on any road trip we take haha.  I still mostly listen to the older bands these days, as well as those who retain the classic sound and flavor…  DISMA, ROTTREVORE, FUNEBRARUM, KURNUGIA, DECEASED, INCANTATION, BAPHOMET, DERKETA, IMMOLATION, CONVULSE, SHUB NIGGURATH, CENOTAPH (MEX), DEAD CONGREGATION, etc  just to name a few!!!  Also plenty of heavy metal classics like RUNNING WILD, SAXON, OVERKILL, MERCYFUL FATE, etc!!  Of course never forget the early classics like BLACK SABBATH, URIAH HEEP, DEEP PURPLE, NAZARETH, GRAND FUNK RAILROAD, etc etc!!  I have varied music tastes as you can see, but they all are important bands and releases in the evolution of REAL METAL!!!!

How do you feel the dm scene has changed over time and where do you think the scene is headed? How can you help in the change process as well as helping to make the scene remain honest and united?

I think the DM scene has changed a lot obviously in the 20+ years I’ve been into this music…  I feel the same as a lot of my peers and older, that things have gotten VERY generic. I do wish we could go back to the old days of the underground, as the feel and spirit was much cooler and different then. The difference between me and a lot of people who have been around however, is that I don’t scoff or brush off younger fans. I’m not “too good” to talk to people, and I enjoy having people over to browse my collection, borrow albums, and spread this music as I always have. Some people get off on keeping their band “only for the true”, playing shows in front of 10 people who are “cool enough” to be there.

While I detest some of the watered down direction the scene has taken with all the sub-genres and bastardized bullshit, I also understand the importance of “re-seeding the crops” for future generations.  If I expose 15 mainstream, younger, marginal metal fans to real underground music, and 2 of them end up giving a fuck, I have done my job.  You’ll still see me at the major touring shows passing out hundreds of flyers for upcoming, smaller underground shows in the hopes that some of them are actually into the music and could catch some of the dark spirit we all possess.

As far as the current state of the scene, it seems to be going in a total retro direction.  So many copy-cat Autopsy, Incantation + Suffocation clones out there, and don’t even get me started on the Swedish/Finnish stuff.  I LOVE all the classic late ’80s/early ’90s Scandinavian demos + albums, but there are a lot of bands today who are total blatant RIP OFFS.  Why would I need to listen to a new album from some band if it sounds exactly like “Left Hand Path”? Do these bands not remember that this was already a problem as early as ’92 with “Entombed clones” in the demo reviews of zines?  Most of them are young however, and just need to learn their history a little better it seems… Slam clones have also been plaguing the scene for over a decade now, and all that shit gets redundant as fuck.  I loved bands like Internal Bleeding, Dying Fetus, Torture Krypt,  etc. in the ’90s and hate that the sound they paved the way for has been reduced to talent-less, burp metal with a lot of these new bands coming out all over the world.  Same fucking riffs over and over with horrid vocals smeared on top.

Another emerging trend in the scene is the whole satanic “goat metal” with all the Blasphemy/Revenge ripoff bands.  There are some great bands doing this style like Manticore, Archgoat, etc. but there is also a lot of filler.  At the end of the day, no matter what genre it is, everything always comes around full circle, with the real bands + fans remaining, and the rest falling off and fading away.  These events in the scene should not be unexpected I must say… Throughout the 80s and 90s, bands were able to get FASTER, HEAVIER, MORE EXTREME…  But we have reached the pinnacle of human extremity and ability.  Drummers are routinely playing 320+ bpm, guitarists have reached the peak of technicality, etc.  The scene had no choice it seems but to either combine genres, or revert back to the old original style or the early bands, thus putting us where we are today.  As far as helping the scene, and keeping it honest, I do that in my city by booking credible, underground bands I am a personal fan of, and want to expose to other people.  Also being a good mentor to younger fans as I mentioned earlier, in hopes of adding more soldiers to the REAL metal alliance in the future…

What are your thoughts on the whole Ariel Castro kidnapping situation that has come out of your state, as well as him now pleading not guilty?

My thoughts on Castro are that he should have gotten the fucking DEATH PENALTY! The fact they offered him a plea deal makes me sick. He was transferred from county jail to a Maximum Security State Pen. in Lorain, OH.  He is SURE to spend his time in protective custody under 23-hour per day lockdown, since ANY inmate or prison gang member in general population would be more than happy to stab him up!!  I’m sure someone will eventually get to him, even in Administrative Segregation and it can’t happen soon enough.  Only pussies prey on women and children, and he deserves to die or be severely maimed, and that’s just how I feel.

(Since this interview was done, Ariel Castro was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison and  has since committed suicide, in jail, after hanging himself)

Give me 5 bands you would love to open up for, live, and why?

Man… we have already gotten to open for some really great bands this year, many of whom are all-time favorite bands of mine, and would have put on this list (Incantation, Rottrevore, etc).

MORTICIAN (seen them 100 times but never got to share the stage with me in the band)
– ASPHYX (Dutch gods)!
– DERANGED (old friends and most brutal of the US-Style, Swedish bands)
– IMMOLATION (another personal favorite)
– AUTOPSY (gods of gore)!!!

Any final thoughts or comments for the readers?

Many thanks again to you Frank for the interview, and the interesting questions! Hope my answers aren’t too long!!!  Make sure to look out for our new album “The Apocalyptic Bloodshower” by the end of 2013, and most of all… keep the infernal flame fucking burning!!!  We all grow older, settle, and have priorities change in life, but never forget or abandon the metal!!!  When relationships go bad, family life gets boring, and life fucks you over, METAL is always there for you!!  I would also say don’t be lazy, and CHERISH the opportunities to see classic bands while they are still playing live.  Even if you “saw them in ‘91” give credit to those out there who are still doing it right, staying on the grind, and supporting the scene. If you are in a band, and you only go to shows you are playing, show up late, and don’t support anyone else, then don’t expect support to come back your way either! As a promoter, I definitely notice who shows up and who doesn’t… Also, a lot of people need to realize that the worldwide scene is a small, tight community, so don’t do bad business.  If you act like a dickhead, fuck people over etc. word travels FAST!!! In the end of it all, it’s not only the music, but the SPIRIT of the underground that keeps me going, and those of us who possess it have a bond that will last into eternity…..  CHEERS AND BEERS…

Hails motherfuckers!!!!!!


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