sobota 22. května 2021

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Interview - MALFORMITY - For me death metal is the ultimate expression of metal with extreme aggression.

Interview with death metal band from United States - MALFORMITY.

Answered Eric Snodgrass (bass, vocal), thank you!

Translated Duzl, thank you!

Recenze/review - MALFORMITY - Monumental Ruin (2021):

Ave MALFORMITY! Greetings to the United States. I'm listening to your new "Monumental Ruin" and I can't break away from it. It has everything I like about death metal. It is raw, raw, dusty, dark and cold at the same time. You really did well with the album. How did it originate? and it is impossible not to ask why only now, after thirty years of existence?

Hails! First off, we are stoked that you like the album! We put a lot of work into it over the past year and half and we really put a lot of work into writing each song. All the songs are written collaboratively and so each song has riffs and parts and decisions made by all of us...and they take a long time to finish. The songs on the album were written between 2006 and 2018. Degenerative Sequences and In Corrosion are the oldest of the bunch. Lost Necropolis was on our 2015 demo EP, but we were not completely happy how it turned out so we made some small changes and re-recorded it. I was adamant about remixing the 2 songs from the 7” as there were aspects of that session I wasn’t happy about. Lifeless / Mindless was an old Malformity song from the 90s that we refactored and recorded. The other 6 tracks were written between 2014 and 2018.

I searched all weekend, but in the end I found it! Sometime in the nineties, a friend recorded a tape of me with one song from the "Black Holes to Heaven" demo. It's a bit unusual, but could you introduce the band to us? When and how did you come into being? Please guide us through the history of MALFORMITY.

To clear some things up, we haven’t been together for 30 years. Wires have gotten a bit crossed in the explanation of how this incarnation of Malformity came to be. Dan and I (Eric) played together starting in 1991, in 1994 we formed Malformity properly, but split up back 1995. I largely dropped out of playing music in the late 90’s and Dan went on to play in other bands (Neuroblast, Burial Rites, Amoebic Dysentery, etc). I played in a couple other metal bands in the early 2000s (Southern Hostility, Eridian). In 2007 Dan, Craig and Billy formed Lectures on the Apocalypse and Glenn (General Surgery, Regurgitate) joined them in 2012. In 2014 Billy left the band and Dan asked me to join Lectures, and pitched the idea of reusing the name Malformity. So it truly wasn’t the same band. We just reused the old name and the 2 founding members of the original Malformity were in both incarnations. We refactored one of the old songs and put it on this album as a throwback. We have discussed possibly bringing up a few of the other old songs. But we found that just having the same 2 members with our vocals and sensibilities did start to naturally move the new songs a little closer to the older original Malformity style at times.

As for the Black Holes to Heaven demos, they were recorded on an old 6-track tape machine by the same friend who mixed this album (Jamie Uertz). We were all inexperienced and experimenting with recording techniques at the time with poor equipment. That would be one reason I’d be interested in modernizing and recording 3 of the other old songs (for exposure). It’s pretty awesome your friend put one of our old demo tracks on a tape (all the way in Europe)! I’m curious which song it was.

Let's go to the new record. The first thing that literally hits everyone in the face is the cover. In a word, amazing! There is a crumbling temple on it. The cover is dark, mysterious. I still have to look at it. It also seems to me that it perfectly depicts what is happening on the record. Who is its author and how did you get together?

A lot of discussion went into the cover art. For our previous two covers we engaged a friend Mike Michalski but for this one we wanted more of an oil-on-canvas style. The name of the album is a mix of two of the songs (“Monument to Decay'' and “Into Ruin”). We wanted a title that is foreboding and dark that matched the tone of most of the songs; eventually we decided on “Monumental Ruin”. For the cover art we wanted something that was a monument to societal/civilization collapse as that’s the theme of the majority of the songs; so we searched out a lot of artists and paintings. Dan came across Jorge Acinto’s (Portugal) artwork and liked his ability to attribute a large scale to objects, and found the piece that is the basis for the cover. We asked the artist to make a few changes and create a new piece that better matched our theme. We got something we loved in its imagery, color palette and mood. And from the beginning we knew we wanted to do a gatefold vinyl LP jacket with a piece of art that wraps around both sides so when you open it makes one wide image. The trick was also making sure the right side of it would make the perfect cover by itself. Additionally with each of our previous releases we updated the Malformity logo. This time we wanted a metallic look and our friend Jennifer “Jephi” Clark updated the logo, which I think looks awesome with this cover.

The album has a massive, dense, raw and dark sound. He literally nailed me to the wall. Where did you record, who is signed under the mix, mastering? How much did you talk about the result, as a band?

All that was 100% intentional. Our sound is our sound, despite the fact it comes from a lot of influences from many different death metal bands. We recorded it very piecemeal, at the perfect place for each component which turned out to be ideal with COVID. Drums were recorded in September 2019 at Orange Peel Recordings with Raheem Amlani (Arcadea). Guitars and some of the bass were recorded by Dan and Glenn in Glenn’s basement starting in November 2019 (finished in mid-2020). Vocals were recorded in March-April 2020 at Second Sight Sound with Alex Parra (Paladin/Sadistic Ritual). Finally we finished tracking bass, solos and mixing at Jamie Uertz’s home studio in Atlanta, finishing in January of 2021. So it was a long process and COVID probably made it longer, but it also allowed us to really focus on getting everything exactly how we wanted it. As I mentioned, our college friend Jaime was the mixing and mastering wizard on this album who has gone on to work with many underground and larger bands like Gojira and Anthrax. We spent a lot of time with Jaime creating the perfect sound and we put a lot of thought as a group into every choice. We are extremely happy with the results and believe we have created a memorable album.

Each band has a different way of composing. Some meet in a rehearsal room, others write at home. How does the new material MALFORMITY form? Are all the songs newly composed or are they also motifs that you had stored in the archive?

As I mentioned before, we write almost everything in the rehearsal space collaboratively. Each song has riffs by at least 2 members. Most riffs are written at home but we use Google Drive collaboratively also, uploading riffs and song chunks for the others to hear. The songs don’t really have motifs before they’re written, they are composed very organically with all instruments and we understand the feel of the song better once it is complete. The song names are decided upon later (we have a list of song titles which sometimes we use and sometimes we just come up with them individually). But every song comes about differently. For instance we knew Facemelt and Bloodgrinder (actually 2 short songs that we play together) would be in the style of deathgrind from the early 90’s…its essentially an homage to Earache’s Grindcrusher album with influences from Repulsion, Terrorizer, Morbid Angel, Napalm Death, Carcass, Bolt Thrower, and others. But other songs start with only 1 or 2 riffs and we see what kind of feel should come next and either find a previously existing riff or sometimes create something new on the spot. The running time of some songs can be longer but each one takes its own journey and the goal is for each song to be a real experience for the listener.

Many years have passed since the 1990s. MALFORMITY is a band composed of experienced musicians who also work in other packs. Nevertheless, times have changed a lot with new technologies. We have the internet, the recording studios are completely differently equipped, etc. Did you have to change your approach in any way? How have new technologies affected you as a musician in your personal life?

Hmm, back in the mid-90s Dan and I were inexperienced (and somewhat broke) college students. We had combo amps and inexpensive Peavey guitars that we’d had since high school. Nowadays we can afford to buy whatever we need. The changes in tech help us as a band write more collaboratively and being able to simply download all the files we recorded in a previous session really helped us be able to record this during the pandemic. But technology also brings its own new set of problems when going from one recording environment to another. Problems that we solved but still gave us some headaches along the way. Additionally we were able to use a Kemper amp modeler to do solos without the hassle of lugging amps and cabs and around.

For me, death metal has always been mainly about live concerts. When I stand down under the stage and look forward to the first song, it is always, even after thirty years, unrepeatable. What about MALFORMITY and live concerts? Do you play, will you play live? What about a tour?

We enjoy playing live. Thankfully we all live around a major metropolitan area that has a lot of shows and opportunities to open for touring bands and we have only gotten better and better live over the years. We have opened for some excellent bands over the years (Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Suffocation, Brutality, Dark Funeral/Belphegor, etc). We all have careers and most of us have families so getting out of town takes a lot of coordinating. We haven’t played out of town very much over the years but are looking forward to playing some shows throughout the Southeast US once shows are a thing again (hopefully this summer). We would really like to get onto some small festivals in the next couple of years and hopefully Unspeakable Axe putting this album out will help us get our foot in those doors. I think we’d be up for some mini-tours in the future. We have some live video recordings on Youtube.

A lot of musicians don't listen to the style they play at all. Are you a collector, a fan? And are there any records that have appealed to you lately?

We all listen to death metal and especially the late-80s/early-90s classics. I think we write what we would like to hear. Dan listens to a large variety of metal and he and Craig are the big collectors. Dan has a large metal CD collection and Craig has a lot of metal CDs but also a diverse vinyl record collection across many genres like psych and prog rock, jazz and classical. Two of his favorite newer metal releases are “Sel de Pierre” by the French band Vous Autres and the new Thantifaxath EP. I am fully digital these days and listen to primarily death and black metal stuff on Spotify and Youtube. I typically gravitate to bands that are really catchy with repeatable choruses and such...and yet aren’t redundant or derivative. With a lot of the songs on this album you will find repeated choruses but in unpredictable song structures.

When you started playing in the 1990s, who was your role model? What was the main reason you picked up the instrument and started playing? How do you remember that time and what would you like to bring back? And what would you change?

For me (Eric) personally it was bass players who did vocals also; Tom Araya, Glen Benton, Jeff Walker, David Vincent, etc. I love metal and wanted to create it like most of us in the genre. As for what I remember and would like to bring back...catchy death metal. I know I sound like an old man.

What does death metal mean to you? Why did you choose this style? How did you get to it and what kind of musicians were your role models when you started? Do you perceive death metal "only" as music or is it also a lifestyle for you? You can look at this thing philosophically.

For me death metal is the ultimate expression of metal with extreme aggression. I listened to thrash in the late-80s/early-90s but slowly moved to death metal after hearing Sepultura’s “Arise” and Obituary’s “Cause of Death” and other death metal that was played on MTV’s Headbangers Ball (Napalm Death, Morbid Angel). It’s not so much a lifestyle for me (Eric), just my preferred music; I have a lot of other interests as well. I would say Dan is more of the metal as a lifestyle member. He has been a fixture in the southeastern US metal scene as a musician and a fan for many decades and almost everyone knows or recognizes him at any show he goes to. But of course he has a lot of other interests too.

What are MALFORMITY planning in the coming months? Thank you so much for the interview. I'm going to play the new "Monumental Ruin" again. It's great! Good luck and I hope we don't wait so long for the next record!

Thanks for reaching out to us! We’re currently lining up ordering all the merch that corresponds to this release (shirts, posters, patches, stickers, etc), which we should have available in the next few weeks. This summer we will release a gatefold vinyl LP of 9 of the main songs from the CD on black and hand-poured colored vinyl. I’d like to release 2 of the others not already on other releases on another 7” record, but we will have to see if that happens. We’ve already started writing the next album and already have a couple songs written. This time around we’re focused on shorter and somewhat faster songs while maintaining our style. There will probably be 9-10 songs on the next one. Again, we’re super stoked you enjoy the album as well as the positive response to the album so far and are really looking forward to playing live again. Hopefully we will have a chance to come play for you in the future!

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