Monday, January 21, 2008

Interview with Rob of Embryonic Depravity

Hey Rob, how's the weather been in the UK lately? We appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to work with Slam-Minded.

Haha yeah it's been typically rainy. Although you should visit here in the summer, it's starting to get a lot hotter because of global warming, not that I believe all that Al Gore bullshit... but that's a different story. Thanks for setting up the interview!

Can you tell us in depth about Embryonic Depravity's influences? What contributes to your playing style, your performing style?

Well our main influence has to be the California scene, started by legendary bands like Disgorge and Deeds Of Flesh and as sick as ever nowadays with bands like Inherit Disease and Banishment. I think we mostly aim towards a more technical groove with our style and that's where the influence derives from.

As for performing, we're constantly trying to intensify our output, both live and on recording. Hopefully some day we'll get to where we hope to be.

How did you get into contact with Permeated Records? How has your experience with the label been overall?

Well they actually first contacted us through myspace, after hearing our promo tracks. They said they were interested in what we were doing and wanted to keep in contact. After we'd finished recording for the 4 way split (out soon hopefully) they asked us to send over a CD of the tracks. After listening carefully they decided to make us an offer.

As for our experience with them, we've only just recently signed the contract so I can't really say a lot yet, but as far as I know they are a very professional label who take a lot of pride in promoting their bands. This is part of the reason we chose to sign with them, as we had quite a few other offers but none of them seemed as good as Permeated.

We understand you'll probably be recording for a new album soon to be released on that label. How are you guys going about this?

Well at the moment we're still in the writing process, that's why the release date is roughly set for the end of the year. We're hoping to use a good extreme metal studio and producer for this. There are not many in this country but we may try to contact Mick Kenny of Anaal Nathrakh about using his studio to record, as he seems to be one of the best with what he's put out in the past. It's not like the States where certain studios are dedicated to death metal!

After that record, are you guys gonna stay with Permeated or seek out similar brutal labels so more people can hear your stuff?

Well I guess we'll make a decision when the time comes. So far Permeated seems like one of the best labels we could hope for, so I guess we'll just see what happens with the release of the album and how they handle it.

How does it feel to come from a developing scene in slam death? The UK isn't exactly known for brutal death metal, but we noticed that you guys have a small, growing, tightknit community going.

We've never really considered ourselves a slam death band. I'd say there may be a couple of riffs in our material that could fit that style but as far as we're concerned our style is brutal death, and the scene we come from is the brutal death scene, which includes slamming bands and other styles.

The UK brutal death scene is like a family, there aren't a lot of bands but there's definitely a unity there. We're proud to be a UKDM band and fully support our bro's in Ingested, Fleshrot, Infected Disarray, Bludgeon, Kastrated, Decrepit Womb, Dyscarnate, Cerebral Bore, Blasphtized and more! Check out the UKDM myspace page: there's a lot of talent to discover there!

You guys tend to use small bits of melody in your slam, in the form of technical sweep parts or tapping sections. Lots of bands seem to be doing this, but you guys really bring the mosh as well. What's the secret to your songwriting?

Haha I don't know, we really try to just bring our own vibe to our material. We want to keep it interesting but without losing the intensity and brutality. We just want people to be overwhelmed when they see us live, as if they don't know what the fuck is hitting them... hopefully it comes across.

Any bands that you guys would love to play live with, and why?

Disgorge! Because they're the sickest band ever bar none. I was really saddened to hear about the death of Ben Marlin, it's such a terrible loss and I can understand what they're going through with the [loss] of a close friend, but as a fan I hope someday they can continue as a band and carry on the legacy or brutality.

Some other's off the top of my head would be Internal Suffering, Severed Savior, Wormed and Defeated Sanity (but we're already confirmed to play with them haha).

Where do you see UK slam going in 5-10 years? Do you think it'll be as big as, say, America's brutal scene is right now?

It will never be as big as the scene in America. The UK is tiny in comparison... but I like to think of the European scene as a comparison to the States. I think if you look at it that way we can easily rival you guys.

What do you think of bands from other countries? Do you see each country/region as producing bands with a unified style?

With the UK scene being small, naturally most of the bands I listen to are from overseas. I do think some countries have their own styles, I don't want to make any generalisations but I'd say Colombia and Japan have very distinct styles. A lot of great bands have come from both scenes also.

Tell us a bit about your webzine, Deranged Epidemic. We know for a fact that, if the name of your 'zine is a title from one of the first two Disgorge CDs, it's automatically awesome.

Thanks haha. I started Deranged Epidemic a few months ago because I was tired of working for other peoples zines that never really achieved anything. I wanted a website where I could control the content and themes. So I recruited Sammy from Decrepit Womb/ Indecent Autopsy to help out as I thought his writing was of a good standard and we set about making a zine dedicated to brutal death. Things are going pretty well so far with some great interviews, we just need to keep adding content and maybe someday it will be one of the bigger sources of interviews and reviews for the scene (editor note: Rob/Sammy's 'zine is available here).

What are some of the "bigger" brutal bands you've played with, and is there a chance you'll come over to the States?

Before we changed our band name one of the biggest gigs we played was as the opener for Skinless and Visceral Bleeding, that was pretty awesome although I feel like we kinda sucked back then.

Some of the biggest acts ED have played with are Gorerotted, Avulsed, and some more underground acts like Mucopus, Septycal Gorge, and Cerebral Effusion.

We'd all love to come over to the states, even for one gig! Maybe some day!

In reference to one of the above questions, do you think the UK has a "sound all its own"? If not, do you think it will ever develop one? The UK has developed kind of a taste for the bizarre in black, etc. metal so do you think it'll be similar with slam?

I doubt it. I think the UK has more of a sense of variety because (as I said before) there's not a huge amount of bands, so there's not a lot of potential for bands to sound similar to each other. But saying that, I think the most English band around has to be Gorerotted, at least on their first two releases. That's proper fuckin London haha. Crepitation and Amputated are very British bands too, it's that kind of attitude of not taking yourselves too seriously. A lot of bands from the UK (including us) aren't like that stylistically, but meet any of us in person and you'll know what makes us UKDM!

Thanks for the interview Rob! Embryonic Depravity rules and we look forward to reviewing your new album! Stay brutal.

Thanks a lot guys, sorry about the long answers... as you've maybe noticed with my zine I get a bit carried away when I start typing! Good luck with your zine and keep supporting the sick and the brutal!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Stabwound - Human Boundaries vs. Poppy Seed Grinder - Oppressed Reality

I recently recieved 6 CDs and a DVD from my main brutality supplier Comatose Music, and I thought in my reviewing of them I'd go a little outside the box. So instead of reviewing them one by one I will review two at a time and choose a winner. So without further ado I present our first match-up Sweden's Stabwound with Human Boundaries vs. the Czech Republic's Poppy Seed Grinder with Opressed Reality.

As you can probably tell Andy and I love the Swedish slam scene. One article down you can find a review of Degrade and we picked MP5k for our best demo/EP of 07. Stabwound also hails from Sweden and features the prolific Uffe on vocals. The band is split up now but not before giving us the full length Human Boundaries. This is a well put together but not terribly original slam album. Devourment is the obvious influence of course and the production reminds me of Molesting the Decapitated. The vocals are probably the best part as Uffe hits pretty much the entire range of brutal vocals and we have a guest appearance by Soils of Fate vocalist Henke Crantz. The riffing is pretty much what you expect from slam. I would say it hits a middle ground between "fast slam" like Abysmal Torment and the heavy grooves of Soils of Fate. A few melodic and pinch harmonic flourishes pop up here and there, but they are a distinct minority. Overall a solid album that will please any fan of the genre, especially if you dig vocal variety.

Poppy Seed Grinder is a different sort of animal altogether. They hail from the Czech Republic, a country known mainly for its grindcore scene, and PSG definitely incorporate grind into their songs with some absolutely furious blastbeats on this album. Oppressed Reality is not quite as groovable as Stabwound (although it has their moments), but they make up for it in other ways. The grindy blast sections are utterly brutal and make the slams that much better in contrast. The vocalist is vicious in both his grunts and screams. The riffing over the whole album is also quite varied leading to a rewarding listening experience. It's hard to find comparisons for this album, except maybe a less technical, more brutal Dying Fetus, but rest assured it is very good. Unique and interesting without sacrificing any brutality.

Verdict: Poppy Seed Grinder. Stabwound is great, but Poppy Seed Grinder were too brutal and too intense to deny the victory.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Degrade - Lost Torso Found - 2006 - Permeated Records

Up for review here is more Swe-slam, this time by the bowel-ruiners in Degrade. Lying somewhat in the NYDM category of slam, but also utilizing fast, angular blast sections, these guys definitely have some nice things to offer; yes, even Texas stomp breakdowns if you want me to get really specific.

Beginning with a short and succinct sample ("What's it to be? Bowels in or bowels out?"), the band slams right into a fast section reminiscent of traditional Deeds Of Flesh works before going into an epic muted riff and vocal "mini solo" section, followed by catchy and tight rhythms in the vein of countrymen Soils Of Fate and
MP5K. This material has a tight and thick production, with the drums right up front. Some minor bass flourishes do peak out once in a while, adding a nice little flair to the sound, but overall you're getting guttural breakdown after breakdowns with verse sections of technical rhythmic interplay and fucked up riffing.

The band clearly knows how to write a song, toying with progressive structures and time signature shifts that don't feel out of place or insipid. The chunky downtuned riffs are often quite similar to Maltese slammers Beheaded and Abysmal Torment, both of which exhibit grind leanings, and so it is as well in the case of this album, though not so much that it's overbearing. As with most slam, the catchiest sections rely on well timed and tight percussion and low-end, and Berto really knows how to pound the skins with accuracy and taste. I wish there were more sections where he played some nice tom fills or something, but his cymbal use is rather impeccable, especially in regards to subtle hits between breakdown riffs. As for vocals, this guy has no problem pretending he's Ruben Rosas, so I'm fine with that, of course! Some layered scream/harsh vocals on top of gutturals remind me of Disgorge on She Lay Gutted (title track of that especially), and of course, if you sound like Matti, you're A-OK in my book too. No problems in the vocal department.

I also wish there were solos on this album...since there are two guitarists on this band and there is VERY rarely any leadwork, I feel like there's kind of some wasted potential in regards to what they could alternatively do with playing shorter lead guitar parts. Not like full blown ridiculous wanky 80's prog guitar, but more in the pinch harmonic/Ancient Necropsy tapping/sweeping sense. Then again, I'm sure they probably thought about this and said "nah" and decided to add in more slams where they originally saw solos, so more power to them. Now I take the time to point to the title of this blog; it says "Slam-Minded" and boy, do we like slams! These guys deliver them, and I'm psyched that they worked with Permeated Records, who have previously brought us great releases from Putridity, Wargore, and Revenance. Hail to the Swedish slam scene!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Ben Marlin of Disgorge Dead. RIP

I am very sad to say that Ben Marlin, bass player of the US Disgorge, has died today after a battle with cancer. Here's the official statement from the band:

We are regretful to say that after nearly a year and a half of battling cancer, our brother and bass player, Ben Marlin has passed away just about the stroke of 5am this January 2nd 2008. We are going to miss him so much and may he live on in all our hearts forever. Ben, Thank you for all your years of friendship and brutality..........

With Love,
The Disgorge Family