Who Needs The Living When You’ve got The Dead?

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You mean The Dead consists of three Australian musicians of the extreme whose neural pathways were warped in some internal fire of the mind, resulting in a sludgified, space truckin’ and head trippin’ terror march through death metal inhabited worm holes…or some shit like that? How absolutely shocking.

Australia has never been known for producing the kind of black, death, and all-around extreme metal that sounds as though its creators took a couple of correspondence courses on The Art of Headfuckery. That’s sarcasm, bitches! The Dead’s second full-length album, recently reworked and reissued on Diabolical Conquest Records, is another in a long line of bent over, twisted up, and fucked off takes on extreme metal, particularly the deadly sort. Drummer Chris Morse, vocalist Mike Yee, and guitarist/bassist Adam Keleher are the cooks in this kitchen of the damned. Morse discusses the recipe for making the music of The Dead.

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So obvious, yet so fitting, just how long did you agonize over it before deciding on The Dead as the band name?

We pretty much ran with that name after about a month of forming the band. We tossed a few ideas around and it was the one we all agreed we could live with. It wasn’t really important to us at that stage what it was called; we just didn’t want some kind of “obviously a metal band” name.

Before we jump into the beast that is Ritual Executions, tell us a bit about its full-length predecessor in terms of its comparative sound, style, and general atrocity

One of the negative reviews we read for a song on The Dead album actually gave us the title for the last song on Ritual. It was such a great negative review we had to use it.  That album to me was us finalizing that early, more experimental stage of the band. We had been playing most of those songs live for about a year or so and were ready to record them and move in a more focused direction with new material. We released a few of the songs on our second demo about six months before we recorded the album and I think the demo recording of those songs sound much better than how the album version sounds. Style wise the difference between The Dead and Ritual Executions is that there is a lot more continuity between the songs on Ritual. It’s definitely more focused than The Dead album was.

As for the tremors produced by Ritual Executions, the descriptions of primitive death meal colliding with sludge/doom hypnotics are quite accurate. Talk about the style and how it came to be, if it was even something that you consciously considered.

There really is no conscious thought going into the style other than at the time we were working on the riffs I was really not interested in playing 100mph, so I guess in some way that influenced which particular ideas got the green light, but I know that Adam was thinking along similar lines for new material. For the first album there were one or two songs where Adam would come in with a more or less a completed song, but for Ritual Executions it was very much put together through jamming on riffs.

Of course, the key to pulling off lengthy, minimalist marches and musical approaches of that sort depends a great deal on the music’s, for lack of a better term, hypnotic qualities. At the end of the day the listener’s interest must be kept, which is something you’ve succeeded in doing. The occasional compositional changeup certainly makes a big impact as well, such as when you launched into something of a more traditional blast of death metal.

I can’t really say much about that other than it all comes down to songwriting – no matter what style/genre, songwriting is what you are doing, so if you think something should go ‘da da da tee da’ instead of ‘da da da da’ then that’s what it is. I appreciate that you get the minimalist vibe. Adam and myself are big old-school reggae fans. I personally think the blast-beat is the death of Heavy Metal.

Ritual Executions was originally released in 2009 and limited to 100 copies. Why so few copies and were you selling them on your own? Can we assume that the originals are now sold out?

It’s the basic principle of supply and demand. After we did the Nocturnal Funeral EP we realized that at this level your music spreads quickly via downloading mainly. If you don’t have a large local fan base of people who want to buy a physical copy of a CD, then it’s superfluous to have, say, 1,000 copies made up.  The original Ritual Executions album did sell out. The Diabolical Conquest Records version is far superior in quality. I don’t even own a copy of the original release anymore.

When did Diabolical Conquest come calling and how what ultimately led to their 2010 reissue of the album?

Kunal from Diabolical Conquest Webzine had been in touch with us regarding our first album and had given the band great support after our Nocturnal Funeral EP came out. I had sent him a copy of Ritual Executions for review and he contacted us one day asking about our situation with Obsidian Records. He asked if we would like to be signed to his newly forming label and that he wanted to put Ritual Executions out. It was great for us because we knew he was actually into the band and he has had a long term involvement with the underground scene.

So the decision to have Aphotic Mote (Portal) remix and re-master the album was based on your dissatisfaction with the original recording? What do you think the makeover gave to the reissue’s sound?

That is an interesting question because actually Aphotic recorded the whole album from the start. We did rush the original mix because we wanted it finished for a gig we had coming up, but the intention was to remix it later. So when DC Records wanted to put it out it gave us the perfect opportunity to do it. The remix really just gave more space to each instrument in the mix so that there was an overall clarity to the sound without trying to sound like a pop record..

What about the modified artwork and eight-page booklet? Simply a way to give something more to the buyer and to set this version apart from the original release?

Yes definitely.

From what I’ve read thus far, you’ve received quite a bit of international critical praise for the reissue. Has this surprised you? Do you even care what anyone else has to say about it?

I have to admit we were surprised how well received it has been. I think with DC Records behind it a lot more people were willing to check it out.

Have there been any bad reviews, especially those that perhaps seemed uniformed or simply way off base by even minimum journalistic standards?

Oh yeah, there are always bad reviews. It’s always a good feeling to read a positive review, but negative reviews can also be just as, if not more, entertaining if they are written well. There have been a few where it would be interesting to see if they really listened to the album because of the comments they made. Nowadays I think “music journalism” has lost a great deal of value because of the amount of forums/blogs, etc. Anyone can quite easily post an often ill-informed opinion about something they may or may not have extensive knowledge of or credentials in.

I must say that it is rare that I’m ever surprised at how much I end up liking an extreme (black, death or otherwise) metal release from an Australian band. Most of you seem just far enough from sane to make some very impacting albums.

Australian bands do tend to put a different twist on things. There is a certain well-intentioned cynicism that permeates the culture here so I think that has an affect on the scene. Although there are some shocking examples of trend following just like in any country.

What comes next in the journey of The Dead?

We have almost finished writing our next album and will begin recording in December for a February 2011 release through Diabolical Conquest Records. And there is a local show in early December where we will have a guest bass player.



  1. Commented by: Vk

    Good interview. Waiting for their next release.

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