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Home » » Interview - EXHUMED - Just be honest and stick to what you believe in!

Interview - EXHUMED - Just be honest and stick to what you believe in!

Interview with American death metal band EXHUMED.

Answered Matt Harvey.

Translated by Markéta, thank you!

Recenze/review - EXHUMED - Death Revenge (2017)

Ave EXHUMED, in October you published your latest album “Death Revenge”. The first thing that catch someone´s attention is the length of the album. At first, I thought to myself…EXHUMED and 52 minutes footage? Are they mad? But then I listened to the album for longer time and it totally went right into my veins. How is the feedback from your fans? Have you played the new songs live yet? How about the critics?

It seems that the record has been pretty well received. On the last tour, we played half of the new album, and people seemed to know the songs and dig them, which is always the real test. The critical response has been pretty positive as well, no one is lining up to shower us with awards, but at this point, it would be weird if they were, haha! Most importantly, we're happy with it and I feel like we achieved what we set out to. We did some things we've never attempted before and didn't fall on our face, and we didn't compromise our core sound, which is important to me at least.

The next thing that surprised me were the instrumental songs, there are 3. I do not say that I do not like them but there are some people who would say that they might disturb the overall compactness of the album. I always say…at least you can take some rest from all the heavy songs. So let´s get this right, why did you chose to put instrumental songs and why do you have 3 songs?

Well, the intro, Death Revenge Overture is designed to feel like an opening credits piece in a film score, so it made sense to have it stand alone as its own thing. We felt that it set the mood and that it feels cinematic in a way that tells the listener “Hey, this is a story, there's a plot and characters here” in a way a guitar riff just wouldn't. Gravemakers of Edinburgh starts side 2 of the LP, so once again, we wanted it to feel like a continuation of the story with the cinematic elements. The Anatomy Act of 1832, however is kind of our stab at something like Orion or The Call of Ktulu. Even before we decided to do a concept record, I wanted to try doing an instrumental track, simply because we're now six albums into the discography, and we needed to stretch out and find some new territory to explore – and Metalllica and Maiden do instrumentals, and usually I think that if they did something in the 80s, it's probably a good idea. The song has been the most divisive track on the record, most people seem to really dig it, and a few people see it as the automatic “beer break” track, haha!

The last EXHUMED albums are more and more in thrash metal, in case of style. There is less of death and grind is almost gone. I personally like it, thrash metal is my favourite but what about your fans? Aren´t they disappointed? In the past when someone said EXHUMED, people imagined fast, uncompromising and totally sick death grind music. Do you have any vision or idea how your music will be different in the future?

I think we've always had very heavy and clear Thrash Metal overtones on all of our records. I think that we need a little more room to stretch out with melodies and stuff than “brutal death metal” really allows. The other thing is that I've always been into playing up-tempo music with a sense of physical movement to it, and Thrash always has that energetic vibe to it, whereas Death Metal can kind of drag, which we really don't do with Exhumed. I've always been mostly interested in playing fast, so the Thrash influences are more prevalent. Plus, as our production values have improved, people can hear the riffs and melodies more, so they think that we're becoming more Thrash-oriented, haha! I think this record in particular has a pretty wide spectrum of influences, from Death Metal, Thrash, Grindcore, Traditional Metal, Soundtrack music, and that's just the obvious stuff. 

I am just watching your new music video for the song “Night work” and I am really enjoying it. I am just thinking that the opening riff is like Metallica “Ride the Lightning” or Slayer “Angel of Death”. Was it on purpose or is it just a coincidence, like a tribute to the old classics?

That opening was absolutely designed to be a “Death Metal Ride the Lightning” when I wrote it – so it ended up sounding like Slayer, haha! We have many tributes to older bands throughout all of our records, from Forbidden, Anvil, Exciter, to Master, Repulsion, and all kinds of stuff. I'm ultimately a fan, so that perspective is always there to some extent.

The cover for the new album was done by Orion Landau. I have to say that for me it is one of the best covers by EXHUMED. It is memorable, nicely colourful and I have to have a T-Shirt with it! How did you decided for Orion? Did not he do the cover for “Anatomy is Destiny” (2003)?

Orion is actually the house graphic designer at Relapse, and an old buddy of mine, since he's worked there for at least a decade at this point. Our concept was firmly rooted in a “VHS Horror” vibe, and he really knocked it out of the park. We wanted something with a simple, central image that was immediately recognizable, and I'm extremely happy with how it came together.

“Death Revenge” was produced by Jarrett Pritchard who also did the last album by BRUTALITY. Why him? The new album seems clearer and “colder”. Was that intentional?

We've known Jarrett for quite a while, and he's done a lot of work with my other band, Gruesome. I knew we could make something pretty great together with Exhumed, and we needed to change up the production a bit, as we recorded All Guts, No Glory and Necrocracy at the same studios. I think “clearer and colder” is very accurate. We backed the distortion way off on the guitars, allowing for some signal decay a much clearer and rawer tone. That allowed all the other instruments to come through more clearly as well, since they weren't hidden behind a raw wall of saturation. We pretty much gave him the material and told him we wanted a different kind of tone than we had for the last record, and he and I worked together to craft a pretty unique guitar tone, which was a huge part of the mix. We also kept the drum triggering and editing to an absolute minimum and allowed things to kind of be whatever they were. So if certain things weren't perfect, they stayed anyway, which keeps the record from sounding artificially superhuman. I'm extremely pleased with the work that he did on the record. 

Please remind us why did EXHUMED break up and why did you stopped playing from 2005 to 2010. Is it difficult to put the band back together after more than 5 years?

We had released Anatomy is Destiny and within about 2 years of that album, Mike, Bud, and Col all quit the band for various reasons. I tried to get a new lineup together, but it wasn't really gelling and I was losing interest in Death Metal at the time. I just felt like the scene was oriented towards tech death and slam, and that's just not what resonates with me at all. A few years later, it was easier to get the guys I wanted in the band involved, and people were slowly coming back around to more old-school Death Metal type sounds. We were very fortunate that a lot of people hadn't forgotten the band, and once we got a great reaction for All Guts, No Glory and I found Mike Hamilton to take over the drum seat permanently, I knew that we could continue to put out stuff that I was proud of and tour and do all of the things that a band is supposed to – write, record, perform, etc.

I think that the style of listening to music has changed over next few years, do you agree? Do you still go on concerts and support bands? What was the last album you have purchased? What have you been listening recently?

The mechanics of listening to music are very different now – I stream a lot of stuff, which is convenient, as you get to hear something before you throw money at it and sample a huge variety of stuff. Some fairly recent records I've enjoyed are: 

Gorephilia Severed Monolith

Cauldron In Ruin

Enforcer From Beyond

Extremity Extremely Fucking Dead

Necrot Blood Offering

Crypt Sermon Out of the Garden

Metallica Hardwired... To Self-Destruct

Iron Maiden Book of Souls

Ripper Experiment of Existence

Gygax Critical Hits

Night Flight Orchestra Amber Galactic

M83 Junk

Tame Impala Currents

Carolina Eyck Fantasias for Theremin and String Quartet

Lazerhawk Dreamrider

You play a lot of concerts in the Czech Republic – on OBSCENE EXTREME FESTIVAL or on smaller concerts. Do you like to play here? How do you feel about Czech fans, women and beer? Do you like Czech Republic?

I love the Czech republic. It's a place we've been playing consistently since our first European tour, way back in 1997. OEF is one of the wildest shows anywhere and Curby has been a good friend for over 15 years now. Czech beer is part of the holy beer trinity for me – Belgium, Czech Republic, and Germany – the three greatest countries in the world for beer – although the US is a strong #4 now, since there are so many micro-breweries all over the country. Czech fans have always been very kind to Exhumed, which is why we keep coming back – and we'll be back in April with Rotten Sound and Implore! And last, but not least... Czech women are beautiful, but I'm married now, so sorry ladies!

As a metal veteran, what would you recommend to young bands that are starting to get their way to the metal scene?

I'd say just be honest and stick to what you believe in. If you want to make a million dollars, go into finance or technology, don't go into Metal. If you believe in what you're doing and you're doing it for the right reasons, you will get a lot out of playing music – maybe not a yacht and a super-model wife, but the best experiences of a lifetime playing, creating, making friends, and probably getting really intoxicated, haha!

And finally, let´s go back to the beginning. Do you remember your guitar beginnings? Your first riff you learned, your first guitar, effects, and so on?

The first riff I attempted to learn was the main riff from Iron Man, because it sounded fairly easy, haha! My goal was to be able to play Seek and Destroy by Metallica, though. I played an acoustic guitar (that I still have) that my dad got from my uncle (a '68 Hofner) for a few months before my parents were willing to invest in an electric guitar. I then got a shitty SG knockoff from a flea market, and finally after about a year, an Epiphone Les Paul. I had an old MXR stompbox for “Fuzz” that I got from my uncle at first, so I ended up learning a lot of Celtic Frost riffs from Morbid Tales which have stayed with me ever since.

What are EXHUMED´s plans for the next few months?

We are finally coming to Europe this April to support the new record with Rotten Sound and Implore, which we are very excited about. We also have a tour coming up in the Western US that is getting put together as we speak, and an appearance on the “70,000 tons of Metal” cruise ship, which should be weird, haha! We're just trying to get out and support the new album and see some old friends, and hopefully make some new ones.

Thank you so much for this interesting interview! I wish you and EXHUMED good luck and there is a room for any last words you want to share with your new and old fans of EXHUMED all around the world.

Thanks so much for the interview and your support. We all really appreciate it. We are looking forward to some proper Czech Pilsner and lots of Blast Beats this April, hope to see you there!

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