Gruesome are well known for their supreme homage to the band Death, where the band emulates and sinks deep into the roots of old school death metal. With one studio album and two E.P.’s the band has recently released their second full length album via Relapse Records. Twisted Prayers was recorded at New Constellations studios in Florida and produced by Jarrett Pritchard, who was assigned to supervise on the making of the new album. With so much hype surrounding the release of the new album I was honored to have a small chat with the band.
What can you tell us about the new album? How different is the new when comparing it with the first Gruesome album?
Well, we’ve come a long way through the Death catalog, and just like they did, there’s a definite progression from record to record. Twisted… is certainly a lot more melodic and technical than the first two records. It also was more technically challenging in the studio to re-create the sound and feel of the record, but I’m quite happy with the way it turned out.
The band has stated several times that the purpose behind the music is to experience the sound of Death, how far do you see the band going with such notion?
Well, there’s still Human, Individual Thought Patterns, Symbolic and Sound of Perserverance on the horizon, so we still have a lot of ground to cover.
Could you tell us about the songwriting process of the new album? And how do you come up with the ideas for the songs?
With Gruesome, it’s a bit strange compared to most bands, in that we already have a blueprint to follow – for this record it was Spiritual Healing. I grew up with the first three Death records, and learned to play by playing along with them, so I have a pretty deeply ingrained sense of what kinds of riffs Chuck was coming up with back in those days, but we’ve tried to capture the same sense of song construction and arrangement that Death had, which is really important in getting the same kind of feel. I basically come up with the framework of the songs out in California and then send them over to Gus and Dan in Florida who then add their stuff and record proper demos of the songs. Because we live on opposite sides of the country and Gruesome is a tribute band, we construct everything really meticulously in advance. There’s no real room for improvisation or that kind of thing. That said, we do a lot of analyzing and dissecting each song before we go into the studio, so we feel like the songs are where they need to be when we finally get in and record them.
What was the concept behind the new video clip?
Well, the song itself is about capital punishment in the US (I’m against it) and the director, the very talented Jeff Sisson, took that concept and ran with it. He embraced the sense of homage that is at the core of Gruesome and came up with a cool take on Escape From New York that fit perfectly. We didn’t want to make the video too bluntly political or anything so it was a great way to put the vibe across and do something a little different for an underground metal video.
The U.S. Death metal scene has been flourishing with many new acts such as Skeletal Remains, Necrot, Disma, Funebrarum, and of course Gruesome, my question is how effectively these bands are trying to prove when it comes to old school death metal?
Well, anyone that’s observed the scene for a while (and pop culture in general) can see that there’s a cyclical nostalgia that permeates it. Right now, we’re in the grips of a full-on Death Metal revival, just like 10 years ago there was a massive wave of Thrash Metal and Crossover. That said, all of the bands you mentioned are putting out great stuff and totally stand on their own as killer Death Metal acts alongside their influences. There are so many great bands playing Death Metal right now, it’s an embarrassment of riches. Check out Extremity, Ruin, Coffin Dust, Tombstalker, Gravehill, and tons of others.
Of all the other bands in the U.S. death metal scene why have you chosen to pledge your homage to the band Death?
Well, I did guitar and vocals for the first US tour for Death to All and had a great time playing Chuck’s songs and celebrating the band’s legacy. Gus also worked with Sean Reinert on a couple of those subsequent DTA tours and we started talking about doing something to honor the Scream Bloody Gore and Leprosy era of the band. Gruesome came out of that. Since Chuck is unfortunately no longer with us, it was a cool and fun way to honor his legacy and the legacy of the band.
Could you tell us your top 5 favorite metal albums?
Metallica – Master of Puppets
Repulsion – Horrified
Possessed – Seven Churches
Death – Scream Bloody Gore
Exodus – Bonded by Blood
Are there and touring plans for this year? Which festivals the band is considering to take part in?
We’re headed to Europe in July and we’ll be at Wacken, Obscene Extreme, Metal Days, Stonehenge, Alcatraz, and a bunch of other places. Hope to see a lot of folks out there, party with some old friends and make some new ones.
Thank you so much for your time, on behalf of Grimm Gent. We are very happy for the success of the new album and we wish you all the best in the future!