The Depths of Flattery

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I’ll get straight to it. One of my favorite releases of the year, and indeed of the last few years is the debut from California’s Fatalist, “The Depths of Inhumanity”. Why? well, I’m a sucker for old school Swedish Death Metal, and Fatalist, right down to the logo, song titles and even some promo photos are Entombed incarnate. I caught up with band founder Neil Burkdoll to take The Left Hand Path and discover The Truth Beyond….

First off, I love the promo shot above with the cross- obviously a nod to the back cover of Entombed’s Left Hand Path right? Where was that taken?

Yeah, that was just sort of a little joke and a tribute to the famous shot from Left Hand Path. We have had some negative feedback in reviews because of that picture. It was more of a joke and we didn’t think we were ripping off any one because of the cross. Tons of metal bands take pictures by crosses. To answer your question, it was taken at the top of a mountain here in Ventura, CA. We shot a few scenes by it for our upcoming video for “Frozen Epitaph” as well.

I imagine its safe to say Entombed is the primary influence of Fatalist, right down to the logo. What are your thoughts on how Entombed has changed and evolved over the years?

Yeah, Entombed was the first “Swedish Death Metal” band I heard back in ’90 and they have remained my personal favorite. Fatalist was picked because it sounded sort of like Nihilist and we used a similar logo so that when people saw it, they would know what we sounded like. I think it worked out pretty well for us. We always wanted to go with more of an original logo later, but it never happened. As far as Entombed goes, I love the first 2 albums and I like some stuff on the 3rd album as well. I got back into them when Uprising came out because by that time, I had come to terms that they weren’t the Entombed that I grew up with and I could enjoy them as a new band of sorts. I did enjoy the 2 albums after that, but the last album and ep they put out after Uffe left was total crap. It just sounded like a weak demo to me. I hope they can come out with something good again.

I heard that you started out as a Stockhom death metal tribute band called Stockholm Syndrome- what songs did you play and how did it progress into writing your own songs and developing into Fatalist?

Stockholm Syndrome never actually happened. If you read our bio, it states that it was an idea but certain members never committed to the band, so when I moved out to California in the spring of 2006, Wes and I started a new band doing originals instead.

Other than the obvious what other bands from that time and place influence Fatalist?

Dismember, Carnage, Grave, Unleashed, Evocation, Cemetary, Therion, Macabre End, Nirvana 2002, Edge of Sanity, Furbowl, Interment, Uncanny, Goddified, etc. Also, bands like Asphyx, Demigod, Fleshcrawl, Autopsy, Obituary, Death, early Sepultura as well.

When getting ready to record The Depths of Inhumanity, were there any discussions about having Tomas Skogsberg record the album, even at Sunlight Studios- is he even recording anymore?

No, I always knew that I would be recording it, but we hoped to go to a real studio to do the drums and mixing. I hope to do this on the 2nd cd, because I don’t want to use the Roland V-Drums again. As much as I love the Sunlight sound from the early days, his modern recordings sound weird to me. It would still be an honor though.

The one thing I thought was missing from your otherwise excellent album, was a cover song, and sure you have a few laying around from the Stockholm Syndrome days- how come no covers made their way into the album? Will fans get to hear any true homages to Entombed and the likes?

Well, we were practicing “Beyond The Unholy Grave” by Death to be a bonus track, but our drummer was to lazy to learn it. I hope to have it recorded at some point because it sounded great with the HM-2 distortion.

Ahh the legendary HM-2 pedal. Im assuming that the pedal all those bands used to get that sound back then? I though there were mythically hard to come by- how did you get yours?

The HM-2 is the Entombed/Dismember pedal that a lot of Swedish bands use.  Yes it is sort of hard to come by these days because it hasn’t been made in over 15 years.  You can them on ebay for $20-$60 I think.  That and another pedal together is how we get the “Sound” you think of as Swedish.  That and a tube amp is all you need.  The pedal is great because it sounds broken and has a added dimension you don’t get from any other pedal.

Have you had any feedback from any of the guys from Entombed or any other Stockholm acts?

Yeah, I have heard from members of Entombed, Dismember, Grave, Unleashed, Evocation, Edge of Sanity, Interment, Goddified and they have all been really positive towards Fatalist. I have heard from members of other Swedish acts as well and no one has ever said that we are crap. I’m sure there are people out there that hate what we do, but it was never meant to be a gimmick or a trend. We honestly thought that everyone would hate our music when we started. There was no Old School Death Metal revival in the spring of 2006. We thought we were alone in the world doing this sort of thing. We started doing this because no one else was doing it and this is what we wanted to hear, end of story.

How do you explain this resurgence of old school death metal of late?

I have no idea. I honestly think it is great. I hate all this new shit that is called “Death Metal” right now. Could it be anymore boring? Computers playing all of the instruments and no memorable songs. Give me a break, it does nothing for me. We don’t pretend to be anything special, but at least you don’t have to hear my songs 100 times before you can hear a song. I hope this trend of math metal or Hot Topic metal dies soon.

You guys seem to be one of the only American bands plying this style with so much authenticity, do you foresee more similar bands crawling out of the woodwork after the response to your album?

I doubt it. I think it would be great if we influenced someone to start a band, but we are still a small fish in a very big pond. There are a lot of new “Old School” bands starting and I would hate for it to be like this Thrash revival that is big right now. We just want to write good songs and that’s about it. We don’t think about money or fame, but it would be nice to play some good shows with some bigger bands in the future.

So, what would be be your ideal show/tour?

Our ideal tour would be opening for Dismember and Asphyx over in Europe somewhere. That is our main goal right now, to get over to Europe and play to some people that actually like this type of metal. We have a hard time in The States with our type of music. These kids over here like this New School shit that bores the shit of us.

If you had to pick one song to define the Stockholm sound- what would it be?

For me, it would be “Drowned” by Entombed. That song has everything in it. It (Left Hand Path) has by far the best production, performances, and song writing on it, but “Drowned”is so fucking good it makes me sick. When the song stops about 20 seconds in, and you hear the 1st guitar start and then the 2nd guitar comes in on the open B chord, it is better than sex. I could hear it every day for the rest of my life.

Speaking of classic songs from that era, is that a little homage to Dismember’s “Dismembered” i hear to start album closer “Rivers of Blood”?

No, that is not actually “Dismembered”, but it was made to sound like it.  It’s all different chords and notes, but we made it as a joke but decided to keep it on the album anyways.

Whats next for Fatalist?

Well, I need to get my band back together. We haven’t practiced in a few months and we need to get our shit together for some shows. I have started writing new songs for the 2nd album as well. We hope to play some festivals and maybe go to Europe when our album officially comes out Jan 2010 in Europe.


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