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Caught In A Mosh: July 2010

| July 1, 2010

Death Warmed Over

Experimentation is great in heavy metal. New sounds, new techniques, new styles . . . if done right and with the band’s roots in mind, results can be great. Even spectacular. (Read the Nachtmystium review in this month’s “Spins.”)

But sometimes it’s just as great to get the “same old same old” from a band. Cardiac Arrest don’t experiment. They don’t tweak. They don’t indulge. They don’t overreach. They play death metal. Death. Fucking. Metal.

It’s a style that, like every musical style, has changed during the years — for better and worse. Doesn’t matter to guitarist/ frontman Adam Scott, bassist David Holland, drummer Jim Deabenderfer, and guitarist/vocalist Tom Knizner, though, because they’ve apparently more or less ignored everything after Autopsy released Severed Survival in 1989 and by doing so have become one of the unique groups in modern-day death metal. So the Chicago (South Siiide!!) group’s new album, Haven For The Insane, isn’t noteworthy because it’s light years beyond 2006’s Morgue Mutilations or 2008’s Cadaverous Presence; it’s noteworthy because it’s the 13-year-old band’s first widespread, international exposure, thanks to a new partnership with Ibex Moon (Archeron, Incantation, Asphyx). And if I can be biased (and it’s my goddamn column), I couldn’t be happier. Adam, Tom, David, and Jim are four of the best, most loyal, most dedicated dudes in metal. Any opportunities and accolades received as a result of Haven and signing to Ibex Moon aren’t only deserved, they’re overdue.

The band (a must-see live act) perform at Nite Cap July 9th; July 23rd at the Central Illinois Metalfest in Urbana; and August 25th at Reggie’s. Deabenderfer recently talked us through the last few years.

Mosh: What’s been the biggest advantage, so far, being on Ibex Moon?

Jim Deabenderfer: I would say there is a certain type of support that John [McEntee, Ibex founder) is able to provide that others won’t. For example, Clawhammer PR, the company that works Ibex Moon, we work with them directly now in addition to anything the label is doing. So we don’t do our own press releases anymore. We’re able to funnel some of the press through them and Ibex. The biggest, most obvious difference aside from the support we’re seeing and the fact we don’t have to do as much work, is the amount of reviews, just the quantity of reviews for Haven before it even came out, versus the total for Cadaverous ever. It’s not because the record is that much better; it’s not because [former label] Epitomite didn’t send them out. I think the reputation of [Ibex Moon] precedes itself. We’ve definitely experienced people saying, “Well, it’s on Ibex, so I gotta get it.”

M: Walk me through the timeline for Haven.

JD: Usually we have one or two song structures left over from the previous record, and once we finish the summer festival cycle we start writing. So this would have been 2008. We had written a few songs right around the time Cadaverous came out and then continued writing through the end of 2008. “Haunted Remnants” is the one oddball song. That was actually the first song we wrote with Tom when he joined in ’06. It was actually on a compilation prior, but we felt the song fit on [Haven]. We felt we had a lot riding on this record, so we were a bit more stressed out. So when it came time to do mixing we took some time off. And when it came time to [finishing mixing] we took our time ’cause we didn’t have a deal and weren’t under the gun. Then we got busy as we always do in the summer, and finished the mix right after the summer. Mastering was done in October, and right around that time was when John started to express interest.

M: So is it weird to support songs on tour that are well more than a year old now?

JD: Oh yeah. We talk about it all the time. We actually discussed playing some of the brand-new material, but you have to consider a concertgoer’s perspective where yeah, they want to hear new stuff, but a lot of people are going to be hearing Cardiac for the first time. So on this tour we’re doing just one song off of [Morgue Mutilations], one song off of Cadaverous, and everything else is off of Haven ’cause that’s the one we think people will know most.

M: Was the bonus DVD the label’s idea?

JD: John wanted to put something out. I’ve always wanted to do some video stuff, and I’ve been sitting on footage for years on certain things. The idea came from John, and we talked about a couple different ways to go with it. The guys were kind of wary at first, because they didn’t want it to be stupid. Once they saw what could be done they were more open to it, and we are already excited about doing one for the next CD. I think in underground death metal, especially, you see bonus DVDs and kinda go, “Ehhhh.” We wanted to really step up the production value, at least from the standpoint of presentation to the point where, yeah it’s bonus and a freebie, but just because of that doesn’t mean it has to be substandard. I wanted something that can be a discount DVD, a $10 DVD, by itself. I wanted something that would stand alone.

M: The tour name Campaign For Death Metal Purity has been the subject of some conversation. What exactly does it mean?

JD: The press release is pretty over the top, but it’s all in good fun and tongue-in-cheek. It’s meant to be that way ’cause that’s where death metal was way back. A lot of the feedback we’re getting is from some of the younger people who don’t understand some of the joke of it. On one hand we take this music seriously, and all of us come from the background of the older style of death metal — which was before you take sweep picking, which is a lead [guitar] technique, and used it for riffs. I love some of those bands, but some of them take it way too far where the song structures are so ridiculous there is nothing to latch onto. Death metal — the way it was originally conceived — was a raw, in-your-face, aggressive thing, not “mommy look how fast I can play with my calculator.” So basically it’s just a call to arms to anyone who never turned their back on that style. It’s trying to remind people about what the style is about. It has nothing to do with any particular bands, it’s just that there’s certain people out there, for whatever reason, who aren’t listening to the right stuff [laughs].

QUICKLY: Two of Chicago’s finest have new material ready to be unleashed. Kommandant‘s five-song EP Kontakt (Planet Metal) comes out this month. I haven’t heard it, but have a sneaking suspicion, being Kommandant and Planet Metal, that it rules. 2008’s Stormlegion was, to borrow a line from former IE scribe Mike Meyer, like listening to a chopper crash. It’s a ferocious record that’s even more so live. Kommandant are one of the most intense live sets around . . . definitely not for the faint of heart. Or people scared by giant knives.

Deadnight frontman/guitarist Mike G. recently gave me a sampler with two new, ripping songs, “Wardogs” and “Riders Of The Black Winds,” both now available on Myspace. The blackened thrashers are currently searching for and negotiating with labels interested in releasing the Riders Of The Black Winds EP and “Storm Of Sorrow” 7-inch. Hopefully both will be out this year with a new full-length in 2011 . . . Whichever label puts out Deadnight should also scoop up Nethervoid. The pig-head toting, Bible-burning Iowa City outfit was supposed to release a 7-inch of “Become Bone” and “Torch The Temple” (the latter can be heard on Myspace) earlier this year, but the label went tits up, leaving two glorious slabs of blasphemous black metal homeless. If you catch the band live (do it) ask guitarist Visigoth — Iowan for Adam — for the CD version, which is spray-painted black and wrapped in a Bible page.

Perversor Demon Metal (Hells Headbangers)
The Ocean Heliocentric (Metal Blade)
High Spirits “Running Home” b/w “Let’s Rock” 7-inch (self-released)
Enemy Of The Sun Caedium (The End)
Armour Armour (Hells Headbangers)

— Trevor Fisher


Category: Caught In A Mosh, Columns, Monthly

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