Lessons Learned

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Like a small child I’ve watched Scotland’s Man Must Die grow from their 2003 demo Season of Evil, through 2 albums on Relapse, the first Scottish band to be signed to the label. A decade later the band is releasing their 4th album, Peace Was Never An Option on Lifeforce Records — and boy is it a scorcher! A revamped lineup and a 4 year break seems to have really invigorated the band as it is easily their strongest effort since 2004’s Start Killing -debut. In these 10 years, I’ve visited with vocalist Joe McGlynn a few times, as well as other lone remaining original member, guitarist Alan McFarland, and deciphered their thick accents enough to have some great conversations. So with the band reappearing on the metal map, I reached out once more and spoke with Joe McGlynn to do some catching up…

So, Joe, what have been up to in the last 4 years since we last talked and you were releasing your second album for Relapse, No Tolerance for Imperfection? You guys were off the grid for a bit. It seemed you guys were about ready to explode and really put MMD on the map with that album. And then… silence.

The last 4 years have been pretty crazy for us for sure. We parted ways with our old record label Relapse which put us in a weird position. We were in talks with several different label in that time but for whatever reason we just couldn’t cement a deal. Our bass player Danny left to move to Finland with his new wife and we sacked Matt the drummer for reasons I wont go into.

We went through a really dark period where it was just me and Alan and we actually considered throwing the towel in, but once we saw how much support we were getting from our fans we realized we had to keep pushing on for them as much as us. Me and Alan got together and began writing what was to become Peace was Never an Option. Once we had the songs written we started looking for a new drummer and bass player and that’s how we came across James and Dan who are by far the best rhythm section we have ever had.

We then decided to forget chasing labels and that’s when we came up with the idea to do the pledge music campaign which was the best decision we could have made.

What happened with Relapse? Was it just a two album deal or other issues?

To be honest Relapse for the most part were really hard to work with, there was pretty much zero communication from the get go. Long story short they didn’t seem to give two fucks about us and in return we didn’t want to be part of a label that showed us pretty much zero support. Don’t get me wrong there are people who worked at Relapse who were awesome and I’m in no way dissing everyone who works there, but the main guys were hopeless. They, in the end, terminated our contract and to be honest we were happy they did because it was so frustrating working with them.

So the new album, Peace Was Never an Option is being released on a German label, Lifeforce Records — a predominantly metalcore label. How did that come about? 

We shopped about for a label to put the new album out and Lifeforce showed interest right from the start. It was refreshing to see someone who was actually excited to work with us especially after the lack of enthusiasm from Relapse. We also hooked up with Grindscene Records who will release the album in the UK and Ireland.

So how much of this new album is older material and how much is newer?

It’s all new. It’s not like we had songs left over from the No Tolerance for Imperfection sessions or anything. Alan and myself have always been the only writers in Man Must Die so although we lost Danny and our old drummer it didn’t effect our chemistry as a band, if you know what I mean.

The album sounds really, really pissed off and personal and even social than the last few. Is that 4 years of frustration being released or something else?

Yeah the past four years were very frustrating and I guess it does kind of come out in the new material, but with that said, it also has some of our most melodic stuff to date. We as people have went through a lot of personal stuff in that time as well so that definitely had an impact on a lot of the lyrics this time round.

The closing song “The Day I Died” seems to really be a personal number.

Yeah it is and it was very hard for me to put that stuff down in black and white. I think the more honest you make your music the easier it is for someone to relate to it, therefore making it more powerful in the long run. I don’t want to write lyrics about nuclear war and chopping up girls — hahaha.

What’s going on with you guys and drummers? You got another one for this album. Third drummer on the third album in a row. Bit of a Spinal tap Situation going on? New guy James Burke seems up to the task it sounds like.

James absolutely blew us away during the recording sessions for the new album. He was incredible. He is by far the tightest and most talented drummer we have ever worked with and he’s a super nice dude. As for Matt, he knows why he was sacked. Lets just leave it at that.

You changed up your vocal style a bit too. For the better I should add. More Barney Greenway?

Hahahaha! I’m hearing this Barney Greenway stuff quite a lot. I am a Napalm Death fan and have been for about 20 years, but I, in no way set out to try and sound like Barney. To be honest if you really listen to me next to him, we sound nothing alike — other than the fact that we both shout as opposed to growl in a deep register. Not to mention he shouts in his Birmingham accent which again makes him sound different. I have always been into hardcore Punk and grindcore which has a more aggressive vocal style and that’s more of what I’m into and I feel it’s a more expressive way to convey my lyrics. If I rip off anyone it would be Tom Araya from Slayer and the rapper Immortal Technique, haha.

Musically things seemed to have really cranked up too. I hear more melody within the brutality, like on your demo and debut album. More songs remind me of early tracks like “Severe Facial Reconstruction” and “Kingdoms Shall Fall” — especially the opener “Hiding in Plain Sight” and “Sectarian”, my two favorite tracks.

As you know we have always had a good balance of aggression and melody in our music, so it’s very natural for us to blend the two and make it work. We are a “SONG” band, we first and foremost always try to write something that will be memorable but in saying that, we never compromise the aggression as that’s what we all love to hear. I think that’s what sets us apart from a lot of the extreme stuff that’s out today. The majority of the extreme stuff I hear nowadays is more focused on being the fastest most technical, but we really don’t give a shit about that.

How did Max Calvalera get involved doing guest vocals on “Abuser Friendly”?

Max’s son Zyon contacted us on Facebook a while back saying his dad was a big fan. That led to us speaking to Max’s wife/manager Gloria and it kind of materialized from that. We weren’t sure if he was going to be able to do it because he was really busy with the release of the new Soulfly album. But he was so cool about it and made the time while he was on tour to book into a studio and lay down the vocals.

When you guys were coming up a few years ago, British death metal was in a bit of a rut, but in the years since the British death metal scene, and even the Scottish scene seems to have really picked up. What happened?

I don’t really know, haha. I guess there is just more talent coming from over this side of the pond than there was before. It’s good to see Scottish bands get some exposure for a change after being overlooked for so many years.

What are some of your favorite new British metal bands? 

New British bands? Erm, I’m not too sure, haha. To be honest there’s not a whole lot of newer metal bands that I like. Period. Most of the stuff I listen to nowadays is not metal. I’m still waiting for that one band that kicks my arse but I’ve not heard it yet. There are still older bands that are releasing amazing stuff like Dillinger Escape Plan, Carcass and the Deftones.

Kataklysm’s JF Deganais was instrumental in breaking you guys, as well as producing you early on (and helped for some musical reference much to your chagrin). Are you still in contact with him at all?

I just recently saw JF at an Ex Deo show in Glasgow a few months ago. JF is one of the nicest dudes in the business and he definitely helped up the profile of the band at the beginning. Great guy.

So hopefully there isn’t another 4 year wait for the next album. What’s next for you guys, now that you are back with a vengeance?

We are looking at booking some tours for the beginning of next year to help promote the new album. We are also looking at maybe doing an E.P of covers so we’ll see what happens with that.




  1. Commented by: F.Rini

    Erik-killer interview and review. I was wondering what the f happened to them? No tolerance for Imperfection was brilliant, blew their other albums outta the water!

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