When All Roads Lead to Hell, Follow the Leaders…Gravehill

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Discontent with the waves of false metal plaguing our great nation, the members of Gravehill joined forces to school all in the realm of true death metal, and they’ve done exactly that since their inception. Ringleader Mike Abominator chatted with Teeth about Gravehill’s role in the takeover of the metal world, the band’s plans to dominate at Maryland Deathfest next year, and various other topics involving leather, steel, blood and carnage.

Gravehill went out on the Campaign for Death Metal Purity Tour this summer. How was it? What were some highlights from the tour?

MA Abominator: The tour was fucking awesome in my opinion. We had some BUMPS in the road. I’m tired of talking about these bumps, so I will focus on the positive. The turn outs were good considering the state of our economy, I know people aren’t going out as much. Plus the bands were still total underground and unknown to a lot of people. It was a total DIY tour, booked by the members of the bands involved, and paid for by Tom/Cardiac Arrest and Jason/Gravehill as far as securing the vehicles goes. Luckily those guys are very good at killing and drug dealing, because we would be stuck at home if not for them! But once we got out there, it was awesome seeing the old friends there, and meeting new ones that were new to the Gravehill experience, and also meeting newer friends that were made online, and finally meeting them in person. A couple of the gigs had a small amount of heads show up, but they were fun gigs none the less. We MADE them good times! But some of the gigs were packed with maniacs. Chicago was totally crazy! It was the best show of the tour! Total fucking maniacs that night! Pittsburgh ruled as well. Austin on a Wednesday had quite a few people there. And New York on a Monday was also killer! Some of the heads in Indy were completely insane! Other highlights include millions of inside jokes with the Cardiac Kids, Ruts Huts and Tick Tock Diner in Jersey, REAL Chicago Pizza in Chi-town, A REAL New York slice of pizza in Lower East Side/Chinatown, 3 BBQs in our honor! Which is amazing when you have that on tour! Hails to Hailey in Austin, Ed in Pittsburgh and Scott/Cianide in Chicago for that! Basically getting to get crazy with all the maniacs that we did get crazy with RULED!

Also this summer, Ibex Moon re-released 2009’s Rites of the Pentagram, with the Metal of Death EP and a DVD as a bonus. How did that come about?

MA: Hails to Greg/Enucleation Records! He was always great to us and helped us get where we are. But he had just put out Rites…. and then due to personal reasons, he decided to fold the label. Luckily he only pressed up around 1000 [copies]. So John McEntee had been interested in working with us for a while. Once we needed a label to work with, we signed with Ibex Moon. It was the perfect fit for us and it was decided to re-release Rites… along with the Metal of Death EP and also throw a DVD of Gravehill in there as well. More death metal bang for your hard earned buck so to speak! We added some stuff to it for the layout and there ya have it. In the end, we wanted to get Rites… out there on a bigger level. And at the time, we really didn’t have a whole album of new material ready. We also didn’t want to do another EP. Why not do a package deal and then just do a new album later on? So fuck it, that’s what we did!

Rites of the Pentagram gives fans a good dose of Gravehill’s piss and vinegar…err, sound. The Metal of Death tracks are more raw, more proto-death metal than the Rites of the Pentagram material, which seems to be more musically akin to trampling over the hollowed-out shells of your enemies on the warpath. What’s your opinion on the band’s progression throughout the albums?

MA: Piss, blood and beer more like it. We like to try and keep it ugly, simple and rockin’. We are not Rush or King Crimson, so we make simple shit to go crazy to. At the same time, we have to make each song different. We don’t want the whole release to sound the same. I like the whole “roller coaster” type tempo changes as you listen to an album. It has to keep your attention, yet I want to know one song from the next. We haven’t really changed our writing style since we started writing the Metal Of Death stuff; same memorable riffs and beats to head bang to. Everything we do is trampling over the sorry ass corpses of our enemies. Fuck them! They had to die! If Gravehill ever “progresses,” fucking shoot me! You can count on us being the AC/DC of death metal for as long as we are here making this ugly shit! Gravehill is always going to be raw as fuck, simple and barbaric death metal. Count on that when you look at our album. Then buy the fucker! You will love it, I promise!

The DVD footage shows us a good deal of your live show chaos. Doesn’t all the battle gear get hot? Don’t get me wrong…it does look incredible. Why do you choose to wear it?

MA: Yeah, we love the live massacres. It is always great to get a bunch of maniacs into a room and just go insane! The DVD footage is cool, but we have had so many other great shows that were totally crazy. I wish we had some of those fuckers recorded. The battle gear is as hot as a pimple on Satan’s ass actually. It is a pain, literally! That shit is real leather and steel. But ya know what, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We are so hopped up on adrenalin and aggression, or drunk, that we don’t care by that point. I fucking love it! People get fucking freaked out at times, and we do stand out. It is a part of us now! We feel like we go into battle every time we play live, so we have to have our battle gear on to win this war of death. You might not like our music, or what we say on stage. You might think we suck. But you will NEVER forget us! We are in the nightmares of posers FOREVER! But we didn’t want to wear the “standard” uniform of a band (like jeans and t-shirts, or just basic all black). Which is fine for others, but we wanted to be over the top. Having 50 or more pounds of gear on also helps with the attitude and MAKES us get focused to slaughter.

We also get a glimpse inside the lives of Gravehill’s metal heads. What do you all do when you’re not raging and wreaking havoc onstage?

MA: Yeah, in the end, we are just total metal nerds. But we are the toughest nerds on the block, and will kick your fucking ass! I think our sense of humor comes out in the DVD. Or maybe we just look like total fucking idiots! Who knows! Outside of the band, hmm. I’m in school to be a pharmacy technician. What can I say, I like the drugs, bahahaha. Before that I worked in pre-press magazine printing for almost 12 years. I have been having to hustle recently, and do the odd job/drifter type thing. But once school is done, I can do my work in medications! Bodybag is a security guard in a “project” housing complex. He gets to bust car thieves as well as drug and theft rings. [Matt] Harvey is busy with Exhumed and works at a cool comic book/record store. He has a second job but not sure what that is. Corpsie, well, we don’t know what the fuck that guy does. Always strange shit going on out by his trailer. He lives way out in the desert, so we don’t go out there. They filmed “The Hills Have Eyes” out there. So yeah, that is somewhere we don’t go. He manages to make it down for practice, writing, gigs and social events though. Glad that I’m on his good side! Thorgrimm is a money collector. If you owe money, he will find you and get that money one way or another. We try and hang out as much as we can as we all get along and don’t hate each other THAT much. We all try and go to as many gigs as we can. And the occasional get together or party is always fun! But our lives are that of the typical aging metal head that still remains young at heart.

On “Decibel Ritual,” MA Abominator delivers one of the best lines to have ever been featured in a metal song: “We are Gravehill…we are death fucking metal…FUCK YOU!” Do you think this sums up the band’s ideals, or was it just something bad-ass to conclude the track with?

MA: The song is all about Gravehill playing for a bunch of maniacs in a graveyard and there are posers there that we all kill! So it is our love song to the fake out there, a warning that we are here now. To keep with the concept, I thought it would be killer to add some sort of diatribe to the ending crescendo/finale. So what I say is to all those who question us, or may have an issue with what we do and who we are. It means, WE ARE DEATH METAL AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, WELL, YOU CAN FUCK YOURSELF. I don’t know about “one of the best lines to have ever been featured in a metal song” but it sure was fun to say and is fun to say live. AND I MEAN WHAT I SAY!

Gravehill’s new album is coming out in November. Can you give us the details?

MA: We actually pushed it back to next year. It will be out spring 2011. We wanted to let Rites… get out there a bit, before we put out the next one. Plus we don’t write songs as quick as we used to. We aren’t fucking Guns ‘N’ Roses and go into the studio with 50 songs and then pick out the best tracks to put on our double album. We have some songs that we play for a couple of months, and then realize that they suck, and drop them. But that had nothing to do with the delay. We could have had the songs ready. We just have scheduling issues since Matt is busy with Exhumed, yet we knew that when we asked him to jam. Plus, as I said, we wanted to get Rites… properly released to the masses, and give it some time to get out there worldwide. We had quite an ordeal making that album, so the hard work that we did for it, I think it deserved a proper release that would have a few pressings. The new album will be called When All Roads Lead To Hell. It will have eight songs of the same death metal that you have come to know and love, or loathe and hate, from us. We are doing the tracking and rough mixing with John Haddad at Trench Studios once again. But this time, the mixing and mastering will be handled by Ryan Butler at Arcane Digital. We have Jeff Zornow doing the artwork for it. And we hope to get a couple of guests on vocals on there as well. So far we have been playing a new song, “Devil Worshipper,” live, and it has been well received. Other titles include the title track, “Suffer No Man To Live”, and “Unholy Executioner.” This will also be on Ibex Moon Records.

You’ve got Matt Harvey from Exhumed on guitar now. What lined up in order for this to happen?

MA: Thorgrimm and I have known Matt for years. And T[horgrimm] has remained in close contact with Matt over the years. Once it was heard that Matt was moving back to the states proper (he was living in Hawaii), he wondered if Matt would want to help us out on the Campaign Tour, since we had lost Zyklon. Matt was a Gravehill fan, and not only was he down, he seemed enthusiastic about it! So once we got on the road, we all got along so well, and Matt had a good time, so he decided that he would stick around and stay in Gravehill. Obviously there has to be some juggling in schedules. But it is working out just fine so far. Matt brings TONS to the table. Not only is he a shredding guitar player, but he is a killer guy. The attention of what he has done with Exhumed does help us, but he is just Matt to us, the same crazy fucker from up north that loves his Napalm Death, Metallica, Exodus and Repulsion.

What else is on Gravehill’s to-do list, in the near or distant future?

MA: We did get offered a couple of high profile tours the last few months here in the U.S. But because of the Campaign Tour, we drained all of our vacation days, and money plans for the year. We do want to jump on a bigger tour, or tours at some point. We will start working with a pro booking agent to hook this up for that, which we are currently doing. Once that follows through, we will let everyone know. We are also currently trying to get a better profile in Europe. It is starting with the UK and then we will move over to the rest of it. Right now, we are in talks with a major metal fest over there about getting a slot on it. Once that goes through, we will then get some other dates around the festival, since we are out there. Can’t really get into that right now either, but when that goes through, we will post that info up as well. We WILL get over to Europe; it is just a matter of time. We have some friends that have offered us gigs in Australia and Japan, but that might not happen until later in 2011. We just want to spread the album and promo out to these areas first, then invade! We also have a split 7-inch with Cardiac Arrest that is coming out this year on Relapse Records as a part of their “Death Metal Series.” And we still want to do a split 7-inch with the mighty Coffins as well, which we have been talking with them about this for years. We might end up recording a couple of other songs for splits as well for other bands. But time will tell!

Based on what I’ve heard from albums and interviews, you guys seem to be deeply devoted to metal. In your opinion, what makes heavy metal what it is? And even with the digital age in its prime, do you think true metal will ever wither and die?

MA: Metal runs through our veins. And it has all of our lives. That’s why we are so passionate about what we do! We DO take it seriously, and put everything that we have into it! You know, it got fucking old to look at magazines and see these clowns in tight skinny jeans all sagging, colorful pastel shirts, stupid haircuts and baseball caps tilted to the side calling themselves “death metal” and not respecting those who came before them, and having an attitude that they are the best thing since hookers. One of the other things was having this “tech death” explosion. And all of these bands started coming out with the Suffocation template(who I LIKE, by the way! HAIL SUFFOCATION!), but stealing it and then cramming 100 more riffs into the song and triggering everything and then the so called “vocals”, ARGHHHHHH. What happened to the balls and evil? What happened to banging your head? What happened to music that you could actually remember? Gravehill was needed at this time to bring back the birth of this music. In the end heavy metal is our life! Without it, life would SUCK! Heavy metal to me is essential to my sanity. It is a family of misfits and fuck ups that all come together, and try to survive as best as we can. It is quite an extreme life style. Heavy metal is pounding drums, rumbling bass, chainsaw guitars, soaring vocals. It is pure attitude! Heavy fucking metal is denim and leather, Camaros and Chevelles, studs and spikes, horns and fists in the air, screaming along, big tits and fine asses, kegs and whiskey flowing, smoke clouds a growing, going fucking crazy! And what really makes heavy metal what it is, is the maniacs that follow the original template! HAILS TO THEE! As far as the digital age, it is almost too easy for kids these days to find the old gems and hunt the classics down. This “digital” time makes it very simple to just download music, yes, but it is also so easy to find bands and do homework and bands, to get the killer music that might be long lost. Regardless of digital or not, true metal will NEVER die! NEVER! The ground work that has been laid out by the forefathers will always be followed by a few. And the torch will be passed just as it is with families and traditions. I myself hunt down torch bearers to continue this battle! And the next generation will continue this and keep it going long after I’m gone!

Gravehill was recently confirmed to play 2011’s installment of arguably the US’s best and biggest death metal festival, Maryland Death Fest. Congratulations, and what are your thoughts on this? Have you attended this fest before?

MA: I have been wanting to go for years, so it was awesome finally getting to go to Maryland, and to also play it! Thorgrimm and Harvey have been before, and have raved about it. Harvey has played it before. It was an honor to be asked to play this mighty fest for sure! It was a combination of hard work and dedication, and a lot of killer people (friends/fans) that flooded the wires with requests of Gravehill to play. Plus having some of our “well known” friends in bigger bands wearing our shirts as well as our killer friends/fans that go to the fest wearing our shirts sure helped! The fest organizers mentioned that they had no idea that Harvey was even in Gravehill when they had asked us, but at first we figured that might have helped. Plus with the hard work, the touring the states since 2007 with our own DIY tours, and getting to play for a lot of die hard maniacs, sure fucking helped. But it is insane that I get to share the stage with some of my all time favorite bands like Impaled Nazarene, Cianide, Aura Noir, Corrosion of Conformity, Nokturnel and Dropdead. Plus the other killer bands that are on there. It is the premier fest in the United States and we can’t wait to get out there and destroy the stage, and destroy some crab cakes too! We thank the Maryland crew for this chance to play the fest! FUCKING AWESOME! ARGHHHHHHHH!

How did you get started writing for Metal Maniacs?

MA: Well, I knew Mark Riddick from talking with him about doing artwork for Gravehill. He actually told me to hit up his twin brother Mike Riddick, who was running the show at Metal Maniacs. So I wrote Mike and asked if I could contribute. He said yes, and the rest is history. He lets me do whatever I want. I can post up what I want, when I want. And can work at my own pace, with no deadlines, or pressure to review or interview crap that I don’t like, haha. So it is fucking awesome. I have my articles that I do: Welcome To Hell (new up and coming bands), Call From The Grave (stories of my metal past), and Zombie Ritual (old bands that have disappeared and deserve recognition for being awesome!). And I also do reviews and interviews. Pretty killer! Metal Maniacs was the most respected printed mag around and I know that it still has that same respect worldwide today. I wish it was still printed as well, but I will take what I can get. Hails to the Riddicks for making this happen.

Comments

  1. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    Yup…that Chicago gig was certainly a killer night ! These dudes were good, but Cardiac Arrest un-fuckwithable that night !


  2. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    *Cardiac Arrest WERE un-fuckwithable*


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