Napalm Flesh: Heartless Interview

Posted December 12, 2011 in

Welcome to yet another edition of Napalm Flesh. This week we have an interview with Pittsburgh hardcore crew Heartless from their show at Raunch Records on December 3rd. Also included are excluxive reviews of music from The Afternoon Gentlemen, Cradle of Filth, The Dead Lay Waiting, Hummingbird of Death/Titanarum, and Untimely Demise. And, even though we are entering the slow winter months of headbanging, we have a rundown of this week’s metal happenings in Salt Lake and beyond.

On Tuesday December 13, In the Venue hosts Pierce the Veil and Miss May I with support coming from Woe Is Me and The Amity Affliction. The real reason that we’re including this listing, though, is because recent Epitaph signees letlive, who are affiliated with the local Broship collective, are also on the bill. Take your little brother and/or sister and hope to god that their taste in aggressive music evolves beyond what they will see this night.  Tickets are $15.50 and doors open at 5:30.

On Wednesday the 14, Year of the Wolf will be at Burt’s Tiki Lounge with local grinders Burn Your World and Huldra, whose Signals From the Void EP is one of my favorite local metal releases of 2011. They’ll be playing the EP in its entirety at this show, and you can get in for just $3. Doors open at 9:00, and this is a 21+ show.

On Thursday December 15, Burt’s Tiki Lounge hosts legendary crossover thrash pioneers D.R.I. with support coming from locals Endless Struggle, Desolate and L.H.A.W. This show is gonna get packed, so get their early to make sure you get in (and before Burt’s runs out of booze)—besides, you should be supporting your local punk bands anyway. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 the day of the show. Doors open at 8:00 and this is a 21+ show.

Looking ahead to Saturday December 17, The Basement in Ogden presents their third annual “Christmas on Fire” show, featuring finalists from The Battle For Metal Supremacy, which I can only assume is a battle of the bands. Other details are nowhere to be found, but the show is $10 at the door, and it starts at 5:00.

Heartless Interview

Heartless is evil. Heartless is mean. Heartless is, simply put, pissed off. This young Pittsburgh quartet plays a style of dark hardcore heavily influenced by the likes of Cursed, Dropdead and especially His Hero Is Gone (the band is named after their song “Headless/Heartless,” after all). Their debut full-length Hell Is Other People was recently released by Southern Lord, and Heartless can definitely stand proud among their crusty-hardcore labelmates such as All Pigs Must Die, Dead in the Dirt and Early Graves. Heartless brought their finely distilled brand of anger to Raunch Records on December 3rd, and before they spewed hate at the crowd for roughly twenty minutes, I caught up with 3/4ths of the band to talk about the new album and their tour.

SLUG: How has the tour been so far?
Cory (Vocals): It’s been treating us well. We’ve had some decent turnouts, and not only that, but we’ve been touring with Full of Hell, who are great guys. Everything just seems to be working out. Everything’s been well promoted and kids seem to be responding.
Rick (guitar): It’s the best tour we’ve been on so far.
Adam (bass): This is our first time heading out west, too. It’s all been great.

SLUG: Have any of the shows stuck out so far or are there any that you’re looking forward to?
Rick: I know that we’re all pretty pumped to play with Thou in New Orleans. They played in Pittsburgh recently and it was amazing. We recently played in Milwaukee and that show kicked ass. We played with Protestant in a basement and had a good turnout and all the other bands were awesome.
Adam: Last night’s show was awesome too. We played at the Blast-O-Mat in Denver and all of those bands were awesome. Iron Horse, Reproacher, just an all around good show.

SLUG: With the new record out, have you seen any difference in the way crowds are responding to your live show?
Rick: When we started recording it hadn’t been announced that Southern Lord was putting out the record, and some people knew about us just because of previous tours, but since the record’s been out it seems like it’s just been double the amount of people have been checking us out. It seems to be pretty well received so far.

SLUG: How did you guys get in touch with Southern Lord?
Adam: I play bass in another band [Masakari] and we did an interview online and Greg must’ve read the interview and thought, “What’s up with this band Heartless?” I guess he had heard of us and got in touch to see what was going on. We sent him a 7” and he liked it, and a few months went by and I just shot him an email saying, “Yo man, would you be interested in putting anything by Heartless out?” and he said yes, and that was it basically.
Rick: We demoed six songs and sent him the demos and that was it. Pretty painless on both ends.

SLUG: Was putting out the new album on Southern Lord a big deal to you guys? A lot of people really dig the label and there’s a certain amount of clout that comes with being involved with them.
Rick: It’s definitely an honor to be a part of Southern Lord. It puts a lot of pressure on us too. It’s amazing. I feel very lucky to have this opportunity. Hopefully we’ll do well.
Adam: I’ve been a fan of Southern Lord for a while. I think we’ve all been into what he’s doing. More recently he’s been putting out punk and hardcore stuff. All in all it’s an awesome label and Greg’s an awesome dude. It’s been a great experience so far.

SLUG: Are you guys the kind of people who read reviews of your own music?
Adam: Yes!
Rick: I am.
Cory: I don’t tend to. I always have this concern—I don’t want it to dictate the direction of our music, especially since, like we were talking about, the pressure that comes with being on a bigger label and being exposed to a lot more people. Southern Lord is still rather freshly hardcore, so to speak, so now and again we’ll have someone who’s more into the drone stuff pick up the album and say, “I don’t get it. What’s he doing with this?” I try not to get too concerned with fitting anyone’s expectations of us. We try to keep our music as honest as we can.
Rick: For me it’s cool to see that people are into it. We’re so close to the music it’s hard to judge how it really sounds to someone who hasn’t heard the songs a thousand times. Every once in a while though there will be a really bad review of someone who just does not get it, and I think that shit’s so funny.

SLUG: Really? That doesn’t bum you out?
Cory: It’s kind of reaffirming. When someone’s like, “I don’t know what powerviolence means…”
Rick: And there’s one that says, “It’s just all so loud…”
Cory: Yeah, it’s quite a racket.
Adam: It just makes us feel like we’re doing something right.

SLUG: Heartless has been getting a lot of coverage from CVLT Nation, which is really cool. They just posted a mixtape that you guys curated, and you can really hear where a lot of Heartless’ influence comes from. What I’m curious about, though, is who are some of the bands that people might be surprised to find out that you’re into?
Cory: We listen to some folk. Our drummer Tom even has a folk side project, he lives with members of the band Run, Forever, so that’s always been something that he and I have been interested in. Besides that, nothing too surprising.
Adam: Well, we all just love music. I like hip hop, indie rock stuff. The music that is an outlet for us though, is hardcore and punk. A lot of the mixtape songs were just songs that we grew up with. There’s not anything that we don’t listen to.
Cory: That mixtape has a lot of local [Pittsburgh] bands. I don’t like it to seem like we jocked some local bands, because a lot of them aren’t even around anymore. Once I started to get into these bands and saw how accessible everything was and how fun it was to see them play live and how intense it can be—Brainhandle, they would beat up their singer during their set, and it was all fun with smiles on their faces! It was just a party and I fell in love with all of that.

SLUG: What does Heartless have coming up for 2012?
Cory: There’s a lot going on. We’ll get home around Christmas. Right off the bat we’re playing a record release for the Code Orange Kids, who are putting out a 7”. For ourselves, we’re gonna start writing right away and try to get another LP out. We have tentative plans to go through Europe for four or five weeks in the fall, maybe some stuff around the US in the spring and summer.
Rick: The first half of the year will probably be a lot of writing and maybe doing some weekend shows, but hopefully the second half of the year we’ll kick back into tour mode.

Exclusive CD Reviews

The Afternoon Gentlemen
Give Praise
Street: 10.04
The Afternoon Gentlemen = Spazz + Crucial Unit + ACxDC + Jesus Crost
There’s nothing like the compilation releases of bands collected works to make your collection of said splits, EPs and other releases seem somewhat obsolete. Granted this massive mother of a release from UK pushers of sonic violence and absurdity that are The Afternoon Gentlemen is a release in CD format so you can put it on your ipod, listen to it in your car or whatever else you can do with digital format music which sadly means it could be offered up to pirates. This collection of 38 songs here will literally unleash hell in your head - toss out any idea that you may hear a melody in this jumbled assortment of gristle and grind and go to war. I’m off to pop a glory Tylenol because the headache these songs gave me is one of happiness in violence. Some say that grind, powerviolence and all it’s little niches lack instrumental proficiency or adegree of difficulty, and every other garbage opinion says that grind and its many counterparts are just noise—this may be true, but it’s noise assembled in an order that derives things equal to releases of dopamine to the brain. -Bryer Wharton

Cradle of Filth   
Evermore Darkly
Nuclear Blast
Street: 10.10
Cradle of Filth = Dimmu Borgir + a lot more dramatics
The gloomy ghouls of Cradle of Filth have released another between-album EP, which fans should enjoy, but probably won’t pull you in their orbit if you’re not a fan already. Evermore Darkly features some remixes of older tunes (including a club-dance track of “Forgive Me, Father” that kind of ruined my day), a beautiful orchestral reworking of classic track “Summer Dying Fast,” and new song “Thank Your Lucky Scars,” whose heavy symphonics and thumping half-thrash beat are classic Filth and one of their strongest songs in years. Attached to this mini-album is the DVD You Can’t Polish A Turd But You Can Cover It In Glitter, showcasing the tour life of the band, as well as some live performances across Europe. Anyone interested in the offstage life and reality of a touring musician should find enjoyment in the DVD; it was unexpectedly lacking in shtick or glamour, but an honest portrait of the life these guys live. –Megan Kennedy

The Dead Lay Waiting
Almost Heaven
Rising Records
Street: 6.13
The Dead Lay Waiting = All Shall Perish + Glass Casket
Hailing from the UK, The Dead Lay Waiting have already gotten some serious attention from mags like Kerrang and Metal Hammer for their sound. Hype confirmed: after spinning the record Almost Heaven, I want to rearrange my own Top 5 for the year. The music here is heavy, progressive, dripping with creativity and polished to a blinding shine. Mixed within the traditional metal elements and heavy-as-fuck bass drops, the band’s added a dash of symphonics, piano, choral chanting, and an even an old British man reading sinister prose over the music as a sort of classy tea-time breakdown. Vocalist Luke Lucas is a hellhound; his desperate howling, banshee-screech highs and demonic lows lend a thickness and weight to the composition most vocalists could never carry. “Open Your Fucking Eyes” did exactly what it promised; the final crescendo of blast beats, chanting keyboards and sharp guitars pushes on your lungs like you’re having a Vietnam flashback. I love the whispy, end-of-the-world closing to “Look At Us Now”; it feels like you’re watching the last gunslinger walk into the sunset. Final Track “Almost Heaven” is unsettling, powerful and full of beautiful grinding guitars. Every track is full of delicious surprises. Mark me down under the Fan column. –Megan Kennedy

Hummingbird of Death/Titanarum
Split LP
Give Praise Records
Street: 10.17
Hummingbird of Death = Agnostic Front (old) + Heresy + No Comment  Titanarum = Voetsek + Weekend Nachos + Nomeansno
Our neighbors to the north by way of Boise, Hummingbird of Death not only have a bad ass name for some power violence and fastcore pummeling tunes, but they’ve got a slew of releases for the willing to dig up, this split LP is the latest from the band courtesy of the always grand Give Praise. It’s ultimately a weird notion listening to a split LP in digital form - I kind of feel like when the Hummingbird of Death portion ends I need to hit pause and pretend to turn the LP over. The fact that HOD’s contribution is two tracks that both run over five minutes in length is appeasing, as the songs get that chance to develop instead of the general 30 to 45 second blasts. “You’re in My Universe Now” starts off with a brooding welcoming traditional hardcore pre-mosh romp leading up to a power violence stomp riddled with the speed rivaling the noises an fully automatic weapon makes. HOD offer up the d-beat, fastcore, grind goodness that puts smiles on so many genre lovers faces from gutter-punk kids to grindcore purists. Add eight songs from the highly fleeting life of Titanarum from San Diego—supposedly these are the last songs the band will record, but I’m sure the members of the band will create band babies of similar styles. They have only a 7” under their belts and a claim to fame with having some tunes showcased in a amateur porn flick—nevertheless a full length from these speedy shits would’ve have been nice to have come to fruition,  but I’ll take what I can get. Basically you want fastcore, you want grind, you want a split LP that’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg, this is a worthy purchase. -Bryer Wharton

Untimely Demise
City of Steel
Sonic Unyon Metal
Street: 9.13
Untimely Demise = Sacrifice + Megadeth
Produced by ex-Megadeth/King Diamond guitarist Glen Drover, City of Steel is actually a re-release for Canadian thrashers Untimely Demise, and their first release on new label Sonic Unyon Metal. It’s got that thick old-school thrash sound with its galloping drums, lyrics of war, death and the devil, and macho, fearless solos. The groove and upbeat riffs in “Hunting Evil” give the track some crazy atmosphere, and one of the album’s best shredfests. The opening guitar-psalm of “Unmaker” is sexy and dark, a beautiful lead-up. Matt Cutberthson invokes a laundry list of influences on the vox throughout the album: I can hear Mustaine in the snarling talk-singing, Rob Flynn in the powerful minor-note howls, even some Joey Belladona at the right moments. The album is a solid thrash record that celebrates everything that makes the genre such a gut-punching success. –Megan Kennedy