Undeath, Sanguisugabogg, Mortuous, Phobophilic Members Reflect On Death Metal In 2022

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Decibel interviewed an amazing array of bands for our January 2023 [#219] (Undeath cover) issue. We could’ve written a treatise on the current crop of death metal crushers, the labels that have supported them, and the underlying vectors behind the genre’s post-pandemic rise… from the grave. Alas, print has its limitations, and we, as conscientious supporters of not goring our dear readers eyes out with a 14-page spread, had to chop (in half–Obituary reference, natch) our Undeath plus others story. Here’s some of the cool quotes that hit the cutting room floor or got COVID and succumbed in the liquified aftermath:

Andrew Lee (Ripped to Shreds)
“I don’t think there’s a single impetus here. It’s coincidence. Everyone has been thinking of death metal, attempting bands, trying to rise up. All this didn’t just happen. It’s been bubbling under (and now over) for a while now. Suddenly, we see the bands getting bigger and blowing up, but it’s been a bit of a long road to get there.”

Chad Gailey (Mortuous)
“I think things started to pop a bit before [this current wave], actually. I know there’s a lot of crazy stuff happening in every part of the country, but I’d say David Mikkelsen and Undergang kind of got whatever wave we want to call this going. Denmark has a crazy scene, and I think it’s all because of David, who’s also in Phrenelith. He put Denmark on the map. We’re pretty close to David, which is why I wanted his label, Extremely Rotten [Productions], to be a part of Upon Desolation. We’ve known him for over 10 years, and we completely trust him. There’s a lot of mutual respect. I think it’s great that there’s bands from all over the country–and around the world–that are doing different things but with the same spirit.”

Kyle Beam (Undeath)
“We definitely do see parallels because they’re our peers, even though we’re all trying to do slightly different things. People are into all these bands right now because they all fill a different specific niche.”

Steve Buhl (200 Stab Wounds)
“The thing I love about what’s going on with our peers right now is that none of our bands sound the same. It’s great because that inspires a whole new generation or scene or whatever to get out there start a band and be creative and not just rip off whatever band is the talk of the town at that point. Like a great example is 200 Stab Wounds, Sanguisugabogg, Undeath and Frozen Soul. We’re all very new, popular bands but none of us sound the same in any way shape or form. But the way we all came up and got our recognition and earned our stripes, we all kind of have similar stories and I draw parallels that way.”

Michael Munday (Frozen Soul)
“Death metal would not exist if it wasn’t fun. Even the bands that are super serious and have a certain vibe are still playing the music because they enjoy it. Nobody would be making music in general if it wasn’t fun to play. I do think that any artist or non-artist should interpret art the way they want to, but to have a ‘serious business only’ mentality and project that outward towards artists that aren’t like that is very narrow-minded to me.”

Devin Swank (Sanguisugabogg)
“The scene in Ohio just keeps getting bigger and bigger and there’s definitely a huge community and always a local show going on which is great. A lot of bands from the area inspire us greatly too and something about Ohio extreme music… brutal and moving is our territory–it’s what we’re about. Bands we like are Embalmer, Heinous Killings, Hemdale, Regurgitation, TON, Decrepit, Premonitions of War as well as a ton of the current wave as well.”

Scott Magrath (Maggot Stomp)
“Ohio, I don’t know what’s going on in that state [with regards to death metal]. Texas is another state that has a great scene. Texas bands have a sound. A Pantera-like groove. I can almost immediately tell when a band is from Texas. Frozen Soul, for example, grew up listening to bands like Iron Age and Power Trip. Cleveland has a lot of venues that support new bands. Venues like No Class. Cleveland is also close to the East Coast.”

Josh Poer (Phobophilic)
“Some songwriters and bands I really admire are Chuck Schuldiner, Bill Steer, Matt Uelmen, Fabio Frizzi, Phil Tougas, Benjamin Reichwald, Blood Incantation, Worm, Steely Dan and Goblin. That’s who’s coming to mind right away, anyway. I think the common thread between all these artists, though they make quite different music, is that it’s all very emotive and even cinematic in a way. That’s the kind of music I aspire to make. I look at music like storytelling and I think all the mentioned artists are great storytellers.”

Kyle Beam (Undeath)
“Dude, we’re just fans of metal music and I just like to riff and hang out with my boys. That’s what it’s all about to me. I just want people to know that we’re normal dudes.”

Steve Buhl (200 Stab Wounds)
“People try to label us all the time, old-school this, new-school that, they sound like this band mixed with that band, oh they sound like a deathcore band. To me, we’re just a metal band that makes music we enjoy. I don’t really care too much or get too deep into whatever label or sub-genre you put to it. If we enjoy the tunes then that’s all we care about. But yeah old-school death metal, to me, is the first wave of death metal bands coming out in the late ’80s and early ’90s. More recent bands to me are just bands. I don’t put a label on shit. If I like, it I like it.”

Andrew Lee (Ripped to Shreds)
“The Chinese or Asian aspects of the band aren’t about convincing anyone or trying to show Western audiences about the validity of having Asian-Americans in death metal. Maybe it’s more about showing Asian-Americans, who aren’t into death metal, that this music exists. The Bay Area is 30-40 percent Asian, depending on the neighborhood you’re in, of course. Go to a show–we’re just not there. Sure, we have Death Angel from 1980-whatever. We have Cartilage, too. But where’s the rest of us, I wonder? We have hella Asian people in the Bay Area. In a way, Ripped to Shreds expresses “Asian-ness” in a very direct way. Like, ‘Hey, we’re here, too. It’s safe.’”

Devin Swank (Sanguisugabogg)
“Your best promotion is you getting your shit out yourselves. We let our personalities kinda shine online because that’s something we had to rely during lockdowns to talk to our fans and I don’t know it hasn’t been bad for us… bands can do what they want. I rock a ton of bands who can care less what their socials are like and I like a ton of bands who live on the Internet too.”

David Mikkelsen (Extremely Rotten Productions/Phrenelith/Undergang)
“A new generation [is] interested in death metal, in the shape of playing in bands, started up labels, putting on shows and even “just” as fans, have made a change to the genre these years, which is great. You see a lot of people coming from various backgrounds again and having interest in death metal, which makes the genre blossom a bit, which is great. Thankfully we see that in Denmark growingly too these years, where I’m also excited of being a part of the semi-local scene of great death metal bands with international appreciation, with bands such as Ascendency, Chaotion, Dead Void, Deiquisitor, Septage, Strychnos, and several more at the moment helping solidifying Denmark on the international death metal map.”

Chad Gailey (Carbonized Records)
“I honestly don’t know why kids are gravitating to death metal. I guess it’s like anything. Nobody can predict what’s going to be popular. I think it came out of nowhere five years ago. When Mortuous formed in 2009, it was Colin’s side project. He linked up Cole, Matt Harvey, Mike Beams, and that’s how the full band of Mortuous even formed. That was 2010. When Mortuous started there weren’t too many bands playing death metal like this. Anhedonist, Dead Congregation, Vastum, Ilsa, Acephalix… they were mostly punks playing death metal. It was kind of wild. There were veterans involved, too. In the end, I don’t know why death metal has taken off. These things happen. Remember, there was a thrash revival. Black metal got fucking super-popular and it’s stayed at the top. Death metal feels like something new to discover now. When you hear it for the first time, you want to consume all of it. There’s excitement. There’s people who are new to death metal. They’re taking it as far as they can.”

Alexander Jones (Undeath)
“I can’t tell you how many shows in the pre-Undeath days that I played to three or less people. Dozens. And I kept doing it because even when it completely fucking sucks and saps you of all financial stability, this is what I love doing. It’s basically what I’ve building to structure my entire life around since I was 13 years old. I truly remember the faces of just about every solitary person who came to see my old bands in empty venues. Getting paid to do this is something I will never take lightly, because I could go back to that cat-piss basement or that coked-out art space anytime. I’m ready for it. I don’t believe anything great is ever achieved unless you’re living with your back perpetually against the wall, regardless of whether things are good or bad. You must be willing. My ambition is to keep going.”

Hails, horns, and CROCS to the killers involved in our January 2023 [#219] issue. Click on the links. Go to shows. Buy some merch. Support death metal!

200 Stab Wounds
Frozen Soul
Ripped to Shreds
Maggot Stomp Records
Carbonized Records
Extremely Rotten Productions

The post Undeath, Sanguisugabogg, Mortuous, Phobophilic Members Reflect On Death Metal In 2022 appeared first on Decibel Magazine.

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