It’s another Bandcamp Friday! If you want to spread a some love, support, and a little cash to some local artists today—or any other day for that matter—here’s a quick list of releases I’ve been blasting throughout this whole global pandemic thing.
Warm Red’s debut album, Decades of Breakfast is out now. Vinyl copies should be arriving any day now via State Laughter Records. In the meantime, catch this bit of Atlanta post-punk’s saving grace on Bandcamp. For fans of the Birthday Party, the Jesus Lizard, early Pere Ubu and the likes.
Lowtown has a self-titled, six-song EP posted up on Bandcamp right now. Guitar player and singer Beaux Neal shows off an impressive vocal range, and the group of musicians on the album—singer and guitarist John Pierce, drummer Russell Rockwell, and bass player Aidan Burns—create a rich and mysterious Southern post-indie rock ambiance.
Thousandaire’s self-titled LP (The Colonel Records) has been making the rounds for a few months now, and you know I’ve been championing it from the beginning. The riffs have only become more potent over time. It’s got that Pavement, Superchunk, Meat Puppets, Dinosaur Jr., mid-’80s SST kind of vibe going on, and we could all use a bit more of that in our lives right about now.
Zano Bathroom has a new full-length out, titled Afrikan Sciences Presents: Zano Bathroom’s Universe From A Different Hip Hop. True to the album’s name, this is hip-hop from the outer limits— culled from the same hallowed Huntsville, Alabama soil that transformed the man Herman Poole Blount into the almighty Sun Ra. Zano has never been afraid to dive headlong into some abstract, avant-garde places while honing killer beats and rhymes. For this offering he joins forces with his old cohort Eric Porter aka Afrikan Sciences, and they take hip-hop to deeper into the cosmos than ever before.
Misanthropic Aggression is back with the Covid-19 Reset EP via Boris Records. The tape features six new songs that find bass player and vocalist Jake Benedict taking over drumming duties—at least for this recording—alongside vocalist and guitar player Chris Hammer. The first song to be released from the EP, titled “The Effect of COVID-19 Isolation on the Mind / Unda Nona” is a twisted maze of scream therapy that goes head-on with quarantine/election season anxiety. The Full EP is available on Bandcamp now, with a handful of bundle packages available. Tapes are out November 17.
Adam McIntyre of the Pinx recently released Black Planet, is a twisted rock excursion that finds McIntyre embracing a mixed bag of musical elements (free jazz, funk, and so)—sounds that he’s been denying himself for years, while keeping the Pinx on course as a modern psychedelic rock band from the South.
Symbiote’s latest five-song, Privilege Of A Daydream, blasts five cuts of no nonsense screaming, riffing, classic hardcore, with no real guitar leads to speak of. It’s a powerful and direct release that’s primed for a year of socio-political turmoil.
In August, death rock and goth-punk trio Tears for the Dying unveiled their second full-length, titled Memories. The album was engineered and produced by Tom Ashton of the March Violets, and recorded at Subvon Studio in Athens. Adria Schlenker, Debra Beat, and Candy Cancer shed the keyboard for most of the album’s tracks in favor of a raw, guitar-driven assault—all three members share guitar and bass duties here. Check out that smoldering cover of Christian Death’s “Spiritual Cramp”!
It’s been a minute since Cave Bat last checked in. Cetacean Creation finds the reconfigured experimental musical trio of Nathan Brown, Priscilla Smith, and Phi (Rob Sepanski) returning with a more song-oriented approach to their sci-fi soundscapes.
Nicol Eltzroth Rosendorf‘s latest LP, Big Other features four musical pieces that are bursting at the seams with droning beauty, anxiety, texture, and ambiance. The album includes contributions from Jarboe (SWANS), James Joyce (Cheifs, Noot ‘d Noot, Car Vs. Driver), Shannon Mulvaney (Maganpop, Anna Kramer, Clobber), Brian Halloran (Smoke, W8ing4UFOs), Billy Fields (Follow For Now, Dionne Farris, W8ing4UFOs), and Xander Cook, with liner notes by author Blake Butler.
Near and dear to my heart, the Cheifs’ four-song 7-inch (Missing Fink Records) stamps in time bass player and vocalist Bob Glassley’s next generation Cheifs lineup—drummer James Joyce, guitarist Scott Hedeen, and vocalist Brad Castlen—expanding beyond the original L.A. hardcore outfits early ‘80s repertoire. It’s an Atlanta punk rock sleeper classic, mixed by Bill Stevenson of the Descendents! I was honored to write the liner notes for this one and final offering from the group.
Since 2014, Cemetery Filth’s singer and guitarist Matt Kilpatrick and guitarist Ryan Guinn have methodically built the foundation for a classic death metal assault on the senses. The group’s debut album, Dominion, explodes with lightning-fast guitar riffs and solos, rapid-fire drumming, and demonic growls with enough chilling fury to light a path from your turntable to your grave—just in time to hear the coffin lid slam shut. With a current lineup featuring bass player and backing vocalist Devin Kelley and drummer Chris McDonald, Cemetery Filth channels nonstop intensity into songs with titles such as “Paralytic Scourge,” “Festering Vacuity,” and “Devoured By Dread.” Dominion materialized April 13 digitally and on CD and cassette via the Athens-based metal label Unspeakable Axe Records. In June, vinyl copies appeared bearing the mark of Atlanta’s Boris Records. With LPs in hand, Kilpatrick took some time for a deep dive into the making of the album’s dark ruminations on death metal.
Chad Radford: Oftentimes, the greatest songwriting is crafted to be open-ended so it can mean different things to different people. Dominion, means sovereignty or control. It also means the territory of a sovereign or government. Both definitions light up my brain with ideas, particularly following the recent social and political upheaval we’re experiencing. But these songs predate what’s happening now. Was it important for you to create an album that has timeless qualities?
Matt Kilpatrick: It’s always been important to us for our music to not seem like a product from a particular time—which may sound completely hypocritical to some people considering we get lumped into the “old school” death metal category. Truth be told, we just prefer and write death metal that hasn’t strayed too far away from the core elements of the genre. We aren’t trying to sound like the bands from the ’90s for any reason other than that those releases are still some of the most viciously brilliant albums in the genre.
But we write what moves us, and I think to all of us, we wanted to make music that honored our influences, whether they’re old or new, and deliver a product where you can feel our passion for the music—like our influences, and the pioneers of the genre did.
The lyrics for the title track are a bit of a metaphor for death metal as an artform. It’s my disgust at the current trends in death metal, and the over-abundance of musicians from other music scenes suddenly discovering death metal, and trend-hopping and flooding the internet with boring, uninspired new projects that sell more T-shirts than they do actual music.
“Dominion only welcomes he who lets the old ways brew; rotting ways require an obsession beyond sanity; with time’s passing, you’re forgotten leave us in ataraxy.” These lines in particular are me emphatically stating that this is not a form of music you can listen to for a week, several months, or even several years, and be able to write your own version of the style. Death metal has so much going on within it. And it is my firm belief that you have to have a sickly obsession with it, for many years, to really understand how to create death metal that has the same energy and conviction as the gods that formed the genre’s classics.
That said, to those reading, please note that my use of the pronoun “he” by no means infers that only men can write death metal. That was something I wish I had realized and changed before publishing the music and lyrics. Some of my favorite bands, and favorite musicians in modern death metal are women, both cis and trans. I apologize to anyone it could possibly offend or turn off. Today’s current events only emphasize how important it is for us as a band to show support and love to all metal fans—no matter their walk of life.
I’ve always loved lyrical content that can be read and applied in different ways. Chuck Schuldiner of Death was known for wrapping life lessons into his lyrics, but carefully crafting them in a way that could be heard differently to different people. I think he got that train of thought from lyricists like Ronnie James Dio, who was arguably metal’s greatest metaphorical writer. While some of my lyrics may be more direct, I am heavily inspired by both of these men and the idea of using metaphors that can ring true through time.
Tell me about the concepts at work behind Dominion?
I would probably say the only single unifying theme on this album is just “DEATH METAL.” That’s why the lyrical concept behind “Dominion” kind of became the perfect subject for the album’s title track. The rest of the songs on the album deal with a wide array of lyrical concepts: —“Subduction” is just a death metallized fictional tale based on the geologic process of plate tectonics recycling the earth and essentially “re-starting” ecosystems and life as a whole. —“Exhumed Visions” is a tale about finding strength within yourself, remembering your goals, re-embracing them, and moving forward as the person you want to be. —Songs like “Paralytic Scourge,” “Aeons in Dis,” “Churning of the Shallows, and “Devoured By Dread” all tell tales of cosmic horror. There are metaphors deeper in a few of those if you look for them. —“Festering Vacuity” may be the most reality-focused lyrics on the album aside from the title track. It’s about our blatant disgust for a world where ignorance is valued over knowledge, and the toxic trend that follows when you have people of power championing ignorance to their already dumb sheep.
You are credited with writing the lyrics on Dominion. Are you the sole-songwriter? Do you write the musical arrangements as well?
I’m actually not the sole songwriter and consistent member. My fellow guitarist in the band, Ryan Guinn, has been with me since the very beginning, and is also the other prominent songwriter in the group. We both bring our ideas together and form the songs into what they are. Our bassist Devin Kelley, has been with us almost as long, and he also got to contribute a couple of riffs to songs. Both of these guys would help me arrange the riffs into actual song structures, and then we’d bring them to Chris McDonald, our drummer, to complete them.
Dominion was six years in the making. How did time unfold for this record, and how did the music evolve as you moved forward?
To be quite honest, most of the music on the album was written in the 14 months before recording. The oldest song on the record is “Devoured By Dread,” which was originally released on our 7-inch split with Australia’s Sewercide. We didn’t intend to re-record any old songs, but our drummer Chris threw out the idea of doing that one since it had changed a bit since the original recording.
We’ve always been a band that’s been split up between at least three states, and before we got Chris in the band, it was always very difficult to get everyone in the same room and working as a focused group to complete songs. We loved our old drummer very much, but at the time he couldn’t commit like we needed him to. Things never progressed while he was in the band. We’d get like one or two new songs done a year at most, and that’s pitiful. I’m not going to lie—a lot of that was personal disdain. It’s hard for me to “create” and get excited about a project if it seems doomed from the get-go.
It was extremely hard to put work into a project that seemed to keep tripping over itself. I think getting this line-up together finally gave me the confidence I needed in the project to write passionately again.
One of the dedications in Dominion’s liner notes goes to Morbid Angel guitarist Richard Brunelle. Do you think of Morbid Angel’s early take on death metal—Brunelle’s style in particular—as strong influences on Cemetery Filth?
Richard’s guitar playing was very instrumental in the creation of those amazing early Morbid Angel records. I don’t think a lot of people realize how important he was in the writing of both Abominations of Desolation and Altars of Madness.
Something about the vicious, barely controlled chaos of those records is so damn intoxicating still to this day, and in my opinion, without Richard on those records, they wouldn’t come close to the perfection that they are.
Though Death is my favorite band of all time, Morbid’s Altars is what I consider to be my favorite record ever released, and what I consider to be the world’s purest offering of ripping death metal. I’d say the insanity of that record has always been something Cemetery Filth has tried to match. We had once talked about covering “Suffocation” from it, but our drummer laughed and said we probably shouldn’t, because most of those songs are so insane that they are just barely held together. It’s really very astonishing how poignant that music still is to this day, over 30 years later.
Brunelle’s death was particularly hard for Ryan and I. We did not know him personally, but a very good friend of our band did, and was actually working with Richard on getting him back to playing music, and actually had started a death metal project with him. At the time, he was playing a horrible guitar that apparently couldn’t stay in tune when they played.
Ryan had an extra B.C. Rich Warlock guitar that he had been wanting to sell, and I sparked the idea of letting me, and our friend who worked with Richard, throw him some money so that all three of us could “donate” the guitar to Richard, who often played a Warlock during his days with Morbid Angel.
He was blown away when he received it, and couldn’t believe some guys he never even met would do that for him. He never saw himself as anybody special, but he was. It was really hard to hear that he passed, but we like to think we gave him something that brought some refreshing inspiration to him in his last few months on Earth. And we certainly hope he realized how much he was loved by the metal scene.
The album is also dedicated to Michael Stewart and Bud Lancaster.
Both of these men were really close friends of the band, treasured members of the Southern / Atlanta-scene, especially to our drummer Chris.
Michael Stewart was the founding guitarist of Chris’s longest-running band, Ectovoid. He was a super talented dude, but more than that, just a great friend and passionate metal-head—and one of Chris’s closest friends in particular. He tragically passed away in 2016 due to an epileptic attack that went terribly wrong. He loved Cemetery Filth and we were honored to play the memorial show that Chris helped set up in his memory a few years ago. I really wish we could have seen what Stew would have gone on to do musically.
Bud Lancaster was another very close friend of Chris’s from Birmingham. I got to know Bud because he kind of became Ectovoid’s roadie and merch guy over the years. He was the sweetest, kindest dude. But like a lot of people these days, he suffered from terrible depression… and in late 2017, he decided he was ready to move on to the next world. I honestly did not have enough time hanging with Bud or Stew, but I loved both of those guys a lot. There are just some people you instantly bond with. Bud and Stew were that for many people, and were cherished by the metal community here in the South. I hate that we lost both of them, and so close together. We all miss them terribly. I’m positive that they would be completely STOKED on our album and especially that their best-buddy Chris was a part of it… so it only made sense to make sure it was dedicated in their memory.
Dominion chugs along by creating an ambience, or a mood, or a moment in rhythm and texture. It’s not overly showy; more like Krautrock, or something like that, which is a deeply affective element with this record. Tell me more about the drawn-out instrumental bouts in songs like “Subduction,” “Paralytic Scourge,” and the title track?
Ah, thank you for that—I’m not sure that’s something we are even conscious of! We honestly craft songs according to “feel.” If there’s a part that is longer and more rhythm based, it’s that way just because it felt right to leave it that way. I think having sections where the music can breathe enhances a song. If we had vocals and solos over every riff it seems like the album would be one big blur, and that every track would sound far less unique from each other.
Death metal is a genre based around its instrumentation. The guitar riffs are what carry the song forward—they are the literal skeleton of any song. You can argue the drums are equally as important, but I will guess that most any band would agree that the riffs always come first.
I can’t speak for every death metal band in the world, but we have always crafted drums around the feel of the riffs. Chris McDonald—the drummer—joining the band went so smoothly and efficiently because he is a drummer that hears riffs and can quickly and fluidly apply a wide variety of beats and fills that compliment the riff. He’s literally told me “I’m just following what you guys are doing,” and the efficiency he has in that talent still impresses me to this day.
But really, any good death metal track is an arrangement of riffs that takes the listener on a journey. And like any journey, you have heavily narrated and intense parts, and then you’ll have parts where the story breathes and allows for the next big event in the tale to build up. So I guess if our instrumental sections of songs seem odd at times, they’re done intentionally to allow the next part to have an extra heavy or ripping impact on the listener.
Do you have a favorite song on Dominion, or is there one that resonates with you, maybe more than some of the others?
The favorite song for each of us probably changes often. If I had to choose one that is a particular accomplishment for me, it would be “Festering Vacuity.” It’s the only song I’ve ever written on my own, from beginning to end. That was a big goal of mine for this record, to contribute one song written completely by myself. Not to say that I dislike working with the other guys… I actually think a band’s best material comes from a band that does write together! But I wanted to prove to myself that I could write a full song, and the bizarrely jumpy, almost-manic sounding “Festering Vacuity” was the result.
If you were to sample one song to somebody to give them an idea of the full album, I would probably go back to “Churning of the Shallows” to be honest. That’s why we lead with that song as the big single that announced the release. It’s got a ton of different parts to it, and that’s always been a big part of Cemetery Filth’s writing style. We like our songs to evolve over time instead of following a predictable formula.
On the heels of releasing 2018’sInability to CopeEP, bass player and lead vocalist Jake Benedict, drummer Tyler Peacock, and singer and guitarist Chris Hammer are back with three-songs that plunge the group’s blend of hardcore, thrash, black metal, death metal, and crust punk into much greater depths. Benedict’s low rumble and Hammer’s demonic shriek create an urgent tension over Peacock’s staccato rhythms. After live-streaming a 7-inch release party on April 20, Benedict took a few minutes to talk about the new songs and finding Misanthropic Aggression’s sound.
The Alcoholic Polyneuropathic Freaks In Hell 7-inch is Misanthropic Aggression’s first new release since 2018, correct?
Yes! The first thing we did after releasing Inability To Cope was to write the song “Blacklisted.” I had already written the guitar riff, so we started arranging it. We worked for about a year and wrote “Black Listed,” then “Retirement From Life (Last Day of Work),” then “Alcoholic Polyneuropathic Freaks In Hell.” Chris came up with the title for that one.
That song feels timely, as many Georgians are struggling with Governor Kemp easing up on the shelter-in-place order.
Yeah, because you’ve been at home for like a month, drinking too much, and you feel like you’re in hell!
We played with Sanguisugabogg at 529 on March 11, 48 hours before the shit hit the fan. The morning after, I got an email saying my son’s school is canceled effective Monday. He hasn’t been back since.
When we played on March 11, COVID-19 was already here. People were wigging out, about half the normal crowd was there, and people were already wearing masks. They were high-elbowing instead of high-fiving. It was a trippy night.
You know there’s a problem when even the crust punks are washing their hands!
Big time! There was a line out the bathroom door all night, just to use the sink!
“Retired From Life (Last Day Of Work)” is the second entry in a catalog of anti-active shooter songs. “Active Shooter Syndrome (A.S.S.)” from Inability To Cope was about the Mandalay Bay shooting in Las Vegas. I heard the news about it and wrote that song. “Retired From Life …” is about the poor guy who worked in the security shack at the FedEx facility in Kennesaw, maybe six-seven years ago. Basically, he was shot in the gut with a shotgun and lived, but he’s had 80-90 surgeries since then.
I thought about how lyricists like Chris Barnes from Cannibal Corpse write. As a kid, it was terrifying to read first-person perspective songs about being murdered. To twist it in with the urban style that we’ve always had I did a first-person narrative about being killed on the job. I was almost afraid to do it because it’s pretty controversial. But the lyrics are so clearly anti-shooter that it won’t come across like we were glorifying it. But it is supposed to be horrific.
Have you published the lyrics?
The lyrics aren’t posted anywhere yet. I’m such an amateur when it comes to actual music industry stuff. After the records are produced, your PR campaign starts. So as soon as you send off the masters the records get pressed. Then Perfect World Productions, who’s doing our PR, sends out press kits. Once the records come in they get sent out for distribution. Boris Records has distribution through MVD. That takes an additional four weeks. I didn’t know all that, and when we picked the April 20 release date I was working off of my DIY experiences: ‘The records will be here and we’ll get in the van and go!’ The 4/20 release date isn’t official. The distributor’s release date, and the reason it’s not on Spotify or anywhere else yet, is June 8. That’s when I think we’ll post the lyrics.
As soon as we finished this one we turned around and finished a new song for the next record. I want to write about COVID-19, but I need to approach it carefully. It’s a slippery slope talking about this virus; you could easily upset people’s political sensibilities, and I don’t want to be seen as a political band. So I’m figuring out how to approach it lyrically.
That’s tough. The anti-active shooter songs — talking about real-world incidents of gun violence — can easily be construed as being about gun control. It doesn’t get more political than that!
Yeah, it could be taken that way. Personally, I see a pattern of antisocial narcissism at work in these shooters — lonely, loser-types, incels who are incels because they have no personality. I noticed that a lot of them have these traits in common. That’s kind of what made me want to chronicle these incidents, and have more than one song about the subject. The title, “Active Shooter Syndrome,” is a play on “active shooter situation.” In my opinion, there seems to be a syndrome here.
What has changed for the group between these two releases?
It’s a cliché, but we’re figuring out our sound. We had this idea to mix five musical genres: punk, thrash, death metal, black metal, and crust. The first release leaned heavily toward punk and hardcore — we had the cover of SSD’s “Boiling Point.” There were hints of death metal, especially in the long musical section in “Herd Rejector/Unbound Descent,” which Chris composed. There are some sludgy parts, some death metal parts. With the new release we went for more of a first wave black metal sound. If you listen to the long section right after the first chorus in “Alcoholic … ,” it has a second wave, almost Gorgoroth or golden era Dark Thrown back-and-forth going on. Real grim black metal. There’s a lot going on in that song, and I don’t want to sound like I’m tooting my own horn, but I’m really proud of it.
Tell me about the sample at the beginning of “Alcoholic …”
Chris did that. It’s the voice of James Dickey, who was a poet laureate in ‘66. He wrote Deliverance.
The lyrics for that song are two-pronged. I have developed alcoholic polyneuropathy, I guess from drinking liquor for 13 years. I’ve started getting real bad tingling in my hands and feet, my skin and scalp crawl, I break out in hives. So the lyrics are about my personal experiences with it, but it’s also a warning to learn better coping mechanisms than substances. It’s definitely in keeping with my amateur psychology that I like to incorporate.
At the end of “Alcoholic …” we take a hard left turn into a weird death metal theme, which is a riff that I wrote. Sometimes I’ll write parts for Chris, but in this song, the whole end, I said, “You do whatever the hell you want, man. These are the parts I wrote. This is the subject matter. Run with it.
Impetigo is a gore-grind band from Illinois, from the late ’80/early ‘90s. They rule, and their vocals have a real strong influence with all the echo and trippy, kind of rubber banding in and out that you hear.
Who did the artwork?
The artwork was done by a Ukranian artist who goes by Warhead Art. He’s done three pieces for us — he did the centerpiece. Chris did the layout. The art is in the middle, and there’s a frame with little stars in the corners. Chris did those, and hand-drew the “Alcoholic Neuropathic Freaks In Hell” logo around it. The stars represent the synapses misfiring in your body due to alcoholic polyneuropathy. It’s what causes the pain, which I thought was a cool idea. The photo on the back with the bricks was taken at the ruins of an old civil war-era mill — Nickajack Creek — up near Smyrna.
The idea was to keep it real simple. No lyrics sheet, no insert, no thank you list. It’s just three songs. The whole thing is influenced by the old Amoebix, Anti Cimex 7-inches; real simple, old-school hardcore shit.
In the summer of 2012, Atlanta was a breeding ground for a raging heavy metal scene. For years, malevolent black metal masters Hellgoat, and death metal slashers Lectures on the Apocalypse, Withered, Death of Kings, and Spewtilator had kept the fires of Atlanta metal burning brightly in the underground. But that year, according to the Mayan calendar, the end of the world was at hand. A new breed of young metal bands and promoters rose to supremacy like thieves in the night and raised the bar high for whiplash fury, blast beats, and searing riffs. The apocalypse never happened, but the psychic tension it created was a boon for headbangers.
“It was a time when there were a lot of touring bands coming through town, and we had this one-two-three punch of Mangled, Sadistic Ritual, and Disfigurement opening pretty much every show, and everyone else got blown off of the stage,” says Charlie Southern, Sadistic Ritual’s guitar player, singer, and founding member. “I’m sorry, but it’s true. Basically, anybody who came through town back then didn’t stand a chance. And they definitely couldn’t hang as hard.”
Seven years later, the world is still here, reckoning with the very real threats of climate change, human overconsumption, poor governance, and species decimation paving the way for the sixth wave of mass extinction in the planet’s history. From that unholy trinity of Atlanta metal peers who, for a time, challenged any and all wayward metal bands, Sadistic Ritual is the only group still standing. Southern is the sole original member who’s stuck with the group since Sadistic Ritual’s first demo recording was released in 2010. “I’ve gone through a hellacious amount of band members since that time,” he says. “It’s purely by my will alone that this group still exists.” Read the full story at Creative Loafing, Atlanta.
The cover art for Vimur’s second album, Triumphant Master of Fates features a painting by Portland, Oregon-based artist Adam Burke (of Nightjar Illustration), depicting a mountainous landscape divided by a river of blood. Standing atop a mountain, a lone traveler gazes into a massive black hole that has formed in the sky, radiating beams of light back at the viewer. It’s an arresting image that, like the cover of a 1950s pulp sci-fi novel, captures a climactic moment plucked from an epic journey.
For Vimur, Burke’s painting illustrates a moment of reckoning on a quest to find deep knowledge, a reverence for the expanding cosmos, and a vision of arcane knowledge, imperceptible when viewed through the lens of humankind’s earthbound senses. It’s also an enticing entry point that sets the tone for the Atlanta black metal outfit’s dive into a much older, colder, and infinitely larger universe than the Norse mythology hinted at with 2014’s Traversing the Ethereal Current and 2016’s Exegesis EP.
“The themes on the new album are all about seeking truth regarding the micro, the macro, the inner, the outer, darkness, and light; they’re about totality and all of its many dimensions,” offers the group’s singer, guitar player, and founding member, Vaedis Eosphorus. “In the past, I feel like I was just knocking on the door of concepts rather than fully opening the door and letting them come into me — come through me. I was exploring rather than exuding,” he says. Read the full story at CL ATL.