This week we have an interview with Pennsylvania (by way of Baltimore, D.C. and South Carolina) death metal newcomers Horrendous. The band’s debut album The Chills is a must-hear for any death metal fan old or new. I talked with Damian Herring, who handles guitar, vocals and sometimes bass duties in the band. Also on tap are reviews of new albums form Aborted, Lacuna Coil, Lamb of God and Young And In the Way. And as usual, we have weekly event rundown as well as a couple upcoming show announcements.
If you didn’t already, know Sweden’s Ghost will be playing the Complex on Saturday, Jan. 28 with support from Blood Ceremony and Ancient VVisdom (not the Swedish band Ancient Wisdom with a “W”). Check out an interview that was featured in January’s print issue of SLUG Magazine in the actual mag (available any place cool) or right here on the internet. http://www.slugmag.com/articles/3193/Ghost.html. Tickets are available from $15-$17—sorry non 21+ folks, Ghost is playing in the Vertigo portion of the Complex.
Just as a courteous heads up, some big spring tours worth checking out have been newly announced.
On April 10, GWAR returns to Utah playing Saltair with support from Municipal Waste and the mighty Ghoul. Tickets should be available for purchase soon.
Also coming up on April 18, The Complex hosts the return of Behemoth with Watain, The Devil’s Blood and In Solitude.
Napalm Flesh: Where did the idea and inspirations come from to create Horrendous?
Damian Herring: The three of us played instruments and wanted to make music together, so we rented a storage unit/pseudo-rehearsal space and started jamming. The music we naturally created together was immediately classic-styled death metal, despite our various metal influences, so we've just gone with it ever since.
Napalm Flesh: From the information provided me, the band is a three piece, but unless my ears are really that far gone, I hear two guitars and bass on most of the tracks on The Chills - was there some multi-tasking going on as far as the recording?
Herring: There is a lot of multi-tasking. There's bass on every song, as you hear. Bass duties were handled by both Matt and myself, and I also handle the guitars and vocals.
Napalm Flesh: Has the band performed live? Does being a trio with a layered sound require you to have an extra live musician?
Herring: We have played live before, but it was always as a trio of drums and two guitars. Compared to those on our demo, the songs on The Chills are much more intricate bass-wise and compositionally, so we hope to find a suitable live bass player for future shows.
Napalm Flesh: The influence of classic Swedish death metal is undeniably noticeable in your songs, but there does feel like there is a small bit of Floridian styled death metal trying to pop in from time to time as well, and early Death feels like it has a small part on the album. This question is a bit of a interview cliché but what is Horrendous’ biggest influences?
Herring: There are definitely all sorts of influences incorporated into The Chills, not just Swedish death metal. There's probably as much old American death metal influence as European death. Our biggest influence is really just good metal in general; metal with interesting songwriting, memorable riffs, and great atmosphere.
Napalm Flesh: The sound of the album production-wise has some unique aspects, especially the guitar tone on the soloing—it has a vibe that feels in a way a bit extra curricular to the meat of the songs. Was the production/recording style meant to highlight the guitar soloing?
Herring: Maybe they sound highlighted because they are a bit cavernous? I (Damian) guess I just naturally mix solos with a good amount of reverb. I want the solos to fit in, but I want the listener to be able to hear every note of every song, every drum hit, every instrument, etc. without having some sort of clinical, clean production. The production should be dark and gloomy and fitting for death metal, without obscuring any parts too much.
Napalm Flesh: I assume the members of the band have played in some sort of band previous to Horrendous. If that’s true what band(s) or styles? And correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe two of your members are brothers? How long have you all been playing instruments and how did you learn?
Herring: We've all been involved in projects through the years, but none were as serious as Horrendous. Jamie and Matt are indeed brothers. Jamie is self-taught on the drums and has been playing off and on for about 5 years. Matt and myself have both had formal training on guitar, and we have both been playing for 10 years. Neither of us have any training on the bass, so we're lucky anything sounds good on the record! We actually had to borrow a really cheap (but awesome sounding) Crate bass to record the album.
Napalm Flesh: What would you say you would want listeners to take away from listening to The Chills?
Herring: We named the album The Chills for a reason: we want the album to give the listener chills, in the sense of a horrifying and terrifying atmosphere.
But also, we didn't set out to write a Swedish death metal record, an American death metal album, a melodic death metal record, etc. We just wanted to write music we could be proud of; music in the style of the music we love, and music we would want to listen to as fans. We refused to keep anything on the record that we didn't love. So, while the attitude and tone of The Chills is old school, we tried to keep the songwriting fresh and interesting with that classic feel.
Most reactions to the album have been very positive, and we're really excited by that. We don't want anyone to dismiss the album or our band as some sort of retro thing or clone band. If you can briefly look past the fact that the guitar utilizes HM-2 distortion, you will find that there is so much more to The Chills than Swedish death metal. Although we incorporate numerous influences, our main goal is to write something new, and something we would want to hear as fans. We think we add enough of our own touches to set us apart, and the fact that each reviewer seems to assign different influences to our sound demonstrates the scope of our music.
Napalm Flesh: In addition to The Chills, you also have a demo, Sweet Blasphemies. Is that available in any capacity for the curious or for fans to listen to?
Herring: Sweet Blasphemies was originally distributed by us as (extremely) DIY CD-R copies through our Myspace page starting in 2009. In 2010, it was pressed on cassette tape through Dark Descent and Skeleton Plague Records, and sold out within a couple of months. It was pressed a second time by Dark Descent about a year later, but the label has no copies left. At this moment, we only have two tapes left of the second pressing. There may be a third pressing in the near future, and we still send CD-R copies to people who don't like tapes. Maybe in the near future we will also make it available digitally online.
Napalm Flesh: The songs on the demo are different (at least in title) than the songs on the full-length. Did any of them morph into songs for the full length?
Herring: None of the songs on the demo were included on The Chills, nor turned into new songs; they are all their own entities.
Napalm Flesh: Any chances the album might wind up on LP format?
Herring: The Chills will certainly be available as an LP. We are working on the layout right now, and it will be available on vinyl in the spring of 2012.
Napalm Flesh: I’ve always been into album cover art as well as just the entire package of whatever format the music is released. Who did the cover art for The Chills? Is there more art in the rest of the album? The cover is pretty damn great.
Herring: We love it too, of course! Raul Gonzales painted the piece that is the cover art of The Chills. We discovered his work online, and when we found this painting, we all thought "this is the one." Wewere looking for a landscape-y painting that gave the proper vibe of the music on The Chills, and we definitely succeeded. There are various pictures in the CD booklet, but this is the only painting/piece of art.
Blog Exclusive CD Reviews
Aborted = Dying Fetus + Cannibal Corpse + Benighted
Don't be turned off by first impressions. One tepid whiff of Aborted's soupy mishmash of death, gore and grind and the uninitiated will likely wonder just what the hell's with these Belgian butt bandits and all their poop jokes. And while cuts like "Fecal Forgery," "Nailed Through Her Cunt" and "Our Father who Art of Feces" surely do little to dissuade anyone that this will be another swandive into the gurgling toilet bowl of fetid splatter-core buffoonery, Global Flatline (the band's first record in four years) actually packs a wallop beneath all its guts and wriggling potty bits. Aborted’s strength lies in phenomenal musicianship and a propensity to seamlessly pivot extreme subgenres without sounding disjointed. "Expurgation Euphoria" maintains a delightfully turgid groove, the aptly titled "Grime" constantly flits between breathtaking guitar work and schizophrenic blast beats and "Endstille" provides the ultimate closer with a slow building belcher from the bowels of Vishnu himself. A slew of guest vocalists add some robust flavor to the concoction, while sole survivor Sven de Caluwé keeps it nasty with a trademark venomous snarl. Wobbly lineups and hiatus hiccups be damned. Aborted is still (yuk yuk) the shit. –Dylan Chadwick
Lacuna Coil = Evanescence + Within Temptation + any verse-chorus-verse radio rock band
Albums like this make me sad at how lackluster bands can become. It’s been ten years since Comalies, a beautiful and shadowy if not especially ground breaking album, and now I can no longer point out any differences between Lacuna Coil and any other radio-play “metal” band like Linkin Park or Disturbed. The beats are boring, the topics have been tread, and the guitars are treated like a background feature to the dueling vocalists. They’re still described as gothic metal, but just having a thick guitar distortion doesn’t qualify as goth, really. Halflife and Comalies actually had some darkness to their sound, some distinctive imagery that was particularly drawing coming from Cristina’s beautiful Italian voice (which is still beautiful, an unfortunate waste). The strongest song is “End of Time” with its pretty melodies and evocative lyrics, but even then, there’s nothing that sticks to your ribs. Dark Adrenaline is a paint-by-numbers, mediocre rock album that says more than ever that the band is on autopilot. And what’s with the weird cover song choices: Depeche Mode and now REM? It’s all just so…beige. Pass. – Megan Kennedy
Lamb of God
Lamb of God = Pantera + some old Burn the Priest + Chimaira
Lamb of God are the gun-toting, moonshine-brewing hillbilly patriarchs (or at least favorite uncles) of the American metal scene, ever since they stomped faces in with their sophomore record As The Palaces Burn. They have a solid formula of straight up thrash with a thick marinade of Southern swampy-ness, and new album Resolution isn’t about to stray from this working model, only improve on it. Once you get through the first listen and realize they’re not throwing any crazy progressive curveballs your way, the album becomes more and more enjoyable, revealing little secrets hidden in its dark corners. This is their sludgiest album to date, keeping the southern sound of Wrath and also harkens back in parts to their dark-punk roots in Burn The Priest. Singer Randy Blithe once again offers “clean” vocals in select moments, but this time he’s hit his sweet spot; they’re both more confident and appropriate with the music underneath than similar efforts on past albums. “The Number Six” has some of his most hellish vocals, plus mob chanting, dizzying guitar work, refreshing drum work from Chris Adler and a bass line that’s thick as sin. Interlude “Barbarossa” is an eerie hymn from a dimmer world, and is an obvious and beautiful homage to the style of Dimebag Darrell. They continue a fine tradition of dramatic album closers with “King Me,” a testament to Blythe’s recent conquering of lifelong addiction and easily one of the most emotionally gripping tracks the band’s ever written. Resolution, as a whole, feels more emotionally gripping than this band has felt in a while; this is grown-up anger, the anger of experience and not a mere misunderstanding. It has its weaknesses—tracks 5 and 9 both include sections lifted straight from Ashes of the Wake with only a note changed or a high-hat removed—but they aren’t make-or-break errors. If you’re not a fan, it’s not going to turn you. But overall, it’s solid, consistent, and satisfying. –Megan Kennedy
Young And In the Way
Amen/I Am Not What I Am
Young And In the Way = Full of Hell + Weekend Nachos + Masakari
These dudes describe their music as “American blackened crust,” so I was pretty goddamn sure that I would like this right away. The unbridled speed and aggression of crust is all over both of these albums (being reissued on vinyl by the always awesome A389 Records), but there are also some slower, creepier ambient passages, which really set YAITW apart from the glut of crust influenced hardcore bands that seem to have popped up over the past few years. “The Becoming,” the 13-minute closer of Amen, is a slow-burning, ass-kicking, skull-crushing track, and the song that really sold me on this band. I’m no black metal purist, but YAITW incorporate tremolo riffing and blastbeats into their music in such a way that it seems they have actually been influenced by black metal and are not merely aping it. I Am Not What I Am is even better, with weirder slow parts (“That Is Not Dead What Can Eternal Lie”) and crazier fast parts (“And We Have Killed Him”). Grab both of these, and be on the lookout for their split with Withdrawal later this year. –Ricky Vigil