Tag Archives: Hardcore

A Taste of the Old School- An Interview with Matt Sorg of Ringworm and Shed the Skin

Matt Sorg (1)
Being a Cleveland native, I am not only proud of the diverse metal scene in Cleveland but I also often find myself frustrated by how often Cleveland metal is overlooked. Bands like Embalmer, Blood of Christ, Decrepit, Soulless, and Ringworm all hail from Cleveland and help to mold the unique tone of Ohio metal. Matt Sorg found himself at the center of the Cleveland metal movement long ago, and has been a part of numerous bands, including Blood of Christ, Soulless, Decrepit, Ringworm, and the recent project, Shed the Skin. I spoke with Matt about the future of Ringworm, the new album, and Shed the Skin. Here’s what he had to say.

Underworld- First of all, how are you?

Matt Sorg- I’m good. Thanks.

Underworld- Ringworm just did a split with Early Graves that’s set to be released in April. What was it like working with the guys in Early Graves?

Matt Sorg- Our manager set up that split for us. We didn’t have any contact with Early Graves. We recorded our tracks here at Bad Back Studios with Dave Johnson and then sent them out to Joel Grind for the mastering.

We recorded four songs, two originals and two covers. One original and our cover of Motorhead’s Iron Fist are coming out on the Early Graves split and the other original and a cover of Venom’s Poison are coming out on a split with a new band called Brain Tentacles. They’re a really heavy experimental band that has Aaron Dallison (Keelhaul) on bass, Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) on saxophone and Dave Witte (Municipal Waste) on drums. That one is coming out soon on A389 Records.

Underworld- The single was heavy as hell! Were you pretty happy with the outcome of the split?

Matt Sorg- Yeah, both splits came out really good. We also just finished mixing a new full length record at Spider Studios with Ben Schigel that just got sent out to be mastered and James is finishing up the artwork now. That will be out on Relapse hopefully in the fall of this year

Underworld- That’s great! So, being in a hardcore/thrash band, what are your thoughts on the division that’s developed within the genres? Are you a fan of some of the newer bands that are incorporating hardcore elements into their sound?

Matt Sorg- I don’t listen to much newer music so I’m really not the best guy to answer this. I’m old. Haha. I like Thin Lizzy, Discharge, Voivod and Motorhead.

Underworld- Fair enough. Is Ringworm currently on tour or planning a tour?

Matt Sorg- We go out for a month long US tour with Unearth starting on March 18.

Underworld- Ringworm has been playing shows and touring for years so you must have a ton of stories. What’s the funniest thing that happened to you guys during a show or on tour?

Matt Sorg- There are a lot of good ones over the years. In 2001 on the Birth Is Pain US tour, we played a show in Savannah Georgia. James and I got really hammered. James puked on the bar and we were just obnoxious and we got in the van and left to drive and find a hotel. Dora was driving the van and Frank was in the front passenger seat. I passed out on the floor behind Frank and James passed out in one of the van seats. Dora hit a bump, I woke up and immediately puked on the pillow that I was using. Frank turned around and said “did you puke?” I said no because I didn’t want Chris to know I puked in his van but Frank said “bullshit. I can smell it.”

Anyway, I pushed the pillow aside and passed out again. When they found a hotel, they couldn’t get either of us to wake up and so they left us in the van. It was mid summer in the south and so it was crazy hot! It had to be like 95 degrees when the sun came up. I woke up and somehow James and I had switched spots in the night and I was in his seat and he was on the floor with his head in the pillow that I had puked in.

The smell in the van was just whiskey, sweat and vomit and I woke him up and he lifted his head up and his hair was caked with my puke. We were totally sweaty and dehydrated. We both felt like death and had no idea what room the other guys were in or anything but the scene was ridiculous. As shitty as we felt, we couldn’t help but laugh.

We’ve been lucky enough to tour with some of our favorite bands like Voivod, Napalm Death, Agnostic Front, Mindshare, Eyehategod, Macabre and a bunch of others that we’ve made friends with. We’ve had a lot of good times on the road and there’s still more to come.

Ringworm 2 (1)

 

Underworld- Haha! Great story! Anyway, I’d like to talk about your other project, Shed the Skin, for a moment. How did everything get started with that?

Matt Sorg- October of 2012 marked the 15th year anniversary of our friend Tom Rojack’s death and Duane Morris wanted to put together a memorial show at the Jigsaw on the date. Since I had been in Blood of Christ with Tom, Duane asked me to help him put together a Blood of Christ tribute set where he would do the Tom role of guitar and vocals.

I asked Ed Stephens who had been in Civil Disobedience with Tom back in the day and Kyle Severn who we’d all known since back in the early 90’s when he was in a band with Aaron Dallison called Escalation Anger to fill out the lineup.

BOC also used to use some keyboards here and there so we got my friend Brian Boston who played the keys in FROM THE DEPTHS to play also. We rehearsed a few times and then the show was just fucking killer and a few weeks after that, Kyle got a hold of me and said how much fun he’d had playing those old songs with us and he thought it would be a good idea to write some new material in that same BOC vein and start a new band. Since it all started as a tribute to Tom, I thought we should name the band after one of the BLOOD OF CHRIST songs so we ended up calling it SHED THE SKIN

Underworld- The demo is fantastic! So heavy! Was it your intention to recreate that old school, Cleveland sound, or did it just sort of happen organically?

Matt Sorg- It definitely was intentional. We set out to kind of recreate that BOC vibe. I had been in BOC, Decrepit, From The Depths and Dead of Night before joining Ringworm and playing that BLOOD OF CHRIST set at Tom’s show really made me miss playing that old death metal style that I spent so many years playing in my 20’s.

This band is a way for me and all of us to relive that era. Obviously, Kyle still plays death metal with INCANTATION but for me it’s a return to my roots and for him, it’s a different style of playing than what he does in Incantation.

Shed the skin (1)
Underworld- What happened with Duane Morris? How did you guys end up working with Ash Thomas, your current vocalist?

Matt Sorg- When Kyle said we should start a band, I originally thought we would just keep the lineup from the BOC tribute set and that’s what we set out to do but we recorded the music for the 7” sometime in early 2013 and it sat for a really long time waiting for Duane to lay down the vocals.

After months and months of waiting, Kyle and I decided that if we wanted to move forward with this, we would have to find someone else to do the vocals. I think Duane just had too much on his plate. He’s gonna come up on stage with us to sing a couple BOC songs at the Hells Headbash.

We knew Ash for a really long time and Kyle asked him if he was interested and he was so we sent him the tracks and he sent us back the two songs with vocals within just a few days. We were really happy with what he did so I asked him to put a guitar solo in the song Rebirth Through Brimstone and he did and then we sent the tracks to Dan Swano to mix and master it.

Underworld- I was incredibly excited to hear that Shed the Skin was just confirmed to play Hells Headbash III. Does this mean that new Shed the Skin material is underway?

Matt Sorg- Yes, we have a full length record that’s being pressed right now. It was also recorded at Bad Back Studios with Dave Johnson and Dan Swano did the mixing and mastering again.

James (HF) Bulloch did the album cover art and layout and it looks fucking amazing! We wanted James’ art on the 7” and the LP because he did the BLOOD OF CHRIST artwork that we used for the I.N.R.I. 7” cover and the art for our 93 demo and since this band started as a tribute and sort of a continuation of that, we really wanted his art for these records.

There are 12 songs on the record, one of which is an old BLOOD OF CHRIST tune called Innermost Sanctuary that Tom and I wrote together in 1993 that never got recorded until now. I remembered how to play the song all these years later and I also remembered the title but we didn’t have the lyrics anymore so we had Chuck Sherwood from Incantation write new lyrics for it that fit the song title.

Chuck wrote all the SHED THE SKIN lyrics for us. Back in the BOC days, Tom used to just fake the lyrics right up until we were in the studio recording the songs and then he’d sit down and jot down some stuff from the Satanic Bible and fill in the lyrics that he’d been faking up until then so it probably never actually had finished lyrics anyway until now. The record is called Harrowing Faith and will be out this summer on Hells Headbangers.

Underworld- Any other exciting plans for the future of the band?

Matt Sorg- We hope to play some more festival gigs and maybe a few shows here and there when RINGWORM and IINCANTATION’s schedules allow time for it.
On top of the two Ringworm split 7” EP’s and the SHED THE SKIN and RINGWORM LP’s that are about to be released.

Hells Headbangers is also putting out a deluxe gate-fold vinyl version of the first FROM THE DEPTHS release. It was originally two demos released on one CD by Duane’s Dismal Records label in 1996.

I started that band with Jim Konya who went by the stage name Malcolm Judas Anthony in FTD. Both of the demos that Jim sang on were on the original CD and now for the first time are being released on vinyl. Jim already worked on the layout with Hells Headbangers before he died.

This was a record he had been talking about and working towards releasing now for many years. I really wish it would have come out while he was here to see it but I know he’d be happy that it’s finally getting released. It’s set to be released on Jim’s birthday, April 21st. They should be available at the Jim tribute show on April 23rd at The Agora.

Be sure to check out Shed the Skin’s new EP, entitled Rebirth Through Brimstone on Bandcamp. You can buy merchandise through Hells Headbangers. Ringworm’s newest split is available for streaming on YouTube. You can also stream Ringworm’s material on Bandcamp on merchandise through the band’s label, Relapse Records.

Advertisements

Fuck The Facts- An Interview With Mathieu Vilandré

47317_photo

It can be difficult to find interesting or even listenable “grindcore”, these days amongst the hordes of noisy copycats littering an already overdone genre. Yet the Canadian quintet, Fuck The Facts have managed to spice things up within their sound, adding a refreshing feel to the genre, by infusing punk and hardcore elements into their sound, without going overboard and sounding cheesy or simplistic. Fuck The Facts has written an impressive body of work over the last 14 years, consisting of eight full length albums and innumerable EP’s, demos, splits and promos. The band’s latest release is entitled “AMER” and is the only EP written entirely in French. I personally like when bands write material in their native tongue. It adds an air of elitism to the music.

The EP slowly builds up, beginning with an intoxicating drumbeat and captivating guitar lick, then proceeds to punch the listener in the face. Intensity is the first word that come to mind when listening to AMER. Mel Mongeon’s vocals are the impetus behind the band’s ardent ferocity. Fuck The Facts has had a female vocalist since 2002 and has not once succumb to the gimmickry that can so easily bring. Mel is simply the best “wo-man” for the job. AMER is shining example of this. Her vocals tear your face off, while Mathieu’s drums crack your ribs. Even the “core” elements on this EP are never annoying, only appropriate. Think crossover, not “metalcore”. AMER flows very nicely and is a 20 minute ferocious assault on the listener. The tracks are short (most of them under three minutes) in typical grindcore/punk fashion. Those of you with ADD will be more than pleased with this release. As someone who wouldn’t normally listen to this genre of music, I can tell you it’s very well done. It is easy to see that Fuck The Facts is hardworking and has honed their sound over the years. Underworld spoke with the band’s drummer Mathieu Vilandre (better known as Vil) about the band, the new EP, touring, and their plans for the future. Here’s what he had to say.

Underworld: Tell the readers a little bit about Fuck The Facts.

Vil: We’re a 5 piece metal band based out of Ottawa, Canada and we’ve been going at it since 2001.

Underworld: Who are your biggest influences as a musician?

Vil: I always enjoyed classic composers like Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Chopin and Mozart. Then I got into progressive metal which was kind of an extension of those composers within the metal world; bands like Symphony X and Yngwie Malmsteen and his “neo-classicalism”. Then I realized I couldn’t really play music properly, so I settled for grindcore. Bands like Cryptopsy, Dying Fetus, Dahmer, Mesrine and Nasum, are what really got me into this shit.

Underworld: How has having a female vocalist impacted the band?

Vil: We get that question a lot. Within the band, it doesn’t change anything. It makes people talk a lot, that’s for sure, and Mel sometimes has to deal with creepy dudes. I would hope that it inspires other female artists to go ahead with their passion and give it all they’ve got.

Underworld: How have lineup changes affected the band?

Vil: It obviously made things a bit more complicated for us but at the same time it forced me and Topon to really focus on the music and our creative process. I’m glad we haven’t had to deal with this shit in years but it kind of helped make Disgorge Mexico what it is since we were only a 3 piece at the time. Thankfully we found Marc and Johnny about 5 years ago and it’s the most solid lineup we’ve ever had. When you have to spend weeks in a van with a bunch of assholes, you at least want some nice ones.

Underworld: In what ways do you think AMER differs from prior releases?

Vil: It’s our first release entirely in French and our first 10”. Everyone in the band really participated. Topon, Marc, Johnny and I all wrote songs for it and Mel took care of the lyrics. I also think it’s a pretty easy EP to listen to and that it flows particularly well. It’s a nice prelude to the new album.

Underworld: You guys were just on tour, what country do you enjoy playing most, Canada or USA?

Vil: I think we all have our preferences but the whole idea is that we like to be somewhere else sharing our music, wherever that may be. We’re from Canada so obviously the vibe here is different, we’ve known most of the people we work with for years. Usually the USA tended to be harder for us but our last tour went great and we had crazy fun. We really just want to play anywhere and meet awesome people.

Underworld: Any crazy tour stories?

Vil: Of course, but I always have a hard time remembering all that shit which makes sense since crazy tour stories pretty much always happen when you’re shitfaced. I’m the worst in the band for this, I never remember anything or it’s all inside jokes and “you had to be there”. I’m pretty much like C3PO, not much of a story teller. We just played in a squat in Spain that had no bathrooms in the venue, people were pissing and shitting outside. Then we noticed there was a river of piss and shit coming from the only toilet in the building on the 2nd floor, I’ve never smelled something so potent. Liters and liters of human shit under the Spanish sun. Tapas anyone?

Underworld: What is the next step for the band?

Vil: We have some regional shows coming up at the end of August in Ontario and then we’ll hit eastern Canada and Newfoundland for the first time. At the same time, we’ll work on finishing the new album, all the music is recorded and we are now focusing on the vocals and the extra shit. We are also completing another recording for two potential splits.

It looks like Fuck The Facts will be keeping very busy and we can expect more from them in the near future. Keep up with them on Facebook and check out the new EP on Bandcamp. Happy Listening. Hails!

Macabre- 20th Anniversary of Sinister Slaughter Mini Tour

1011483_10151481340846090_1964125137_n

It has been twenty years since the legendary grindcore/murder metal, Chicago outfit, Macabre released their famed album, Sinister Slaughter, and the band decided to embark on a celebratory mini tour in its honor. Even though Macabre only played four shows on their tour, they still played Cleveland. They always play Cleveland. I am very lucky to live in a city so sublimely metal, a city where dark, graffiti ridden clubs mark every street corner and black clad drunkards and musicians are the daytime norm.

It was a “Sinister Sunday” indeed, when Corporate Death, Dennis the Menace and Nefarious invaded “The Birthplace of Rock and Roll”, for a very special, exclusive performance with local bands, Merciless Reign, Benighten Empire and Punching Moses. The crowd prepared for an evening of drinking, debauchery and mayhem.

The first band to hit the stage was Merciless Reign. I didn’t really know what to expect from this new Death/Thrash act. These guys were friends of mine, however, so I stood center stage, awaiting my first listen. What a surprise! What stood out about this band, was the sheer power emanating in their sound. Merciless Reign has a sound that requires none of the fancy, technical frills that have become so popular nowadays, with the influx of tech death on the rise. No sir, Merciless Reign has a presence and an intensity that will tear your fucking face off and they deliver this ambiance with simple, aggressive, thrash-y riffs, a bit of blackened repetition, blistering leads and paralyzing blast beats. Tracks like 17 Years of Hatred (Unleashed) are an epic and driving force to be reckoned with when played live. The energy that Merciless Reign achieves in their live performances is not quite met in their studio recordings, however. That is not to say that their demo is no good. It is very well done. But Merciless Reign bludgeons the hell out of a crowd live. I think this is because of the intensity that their drummer, Chris Krucker, packs into his live performances. He’s a wild man up there. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more from this band, both live and in the studio.

The next band up was Cleveland’s own Benighten Empire. Formed from the ashes of local deathcore outfit Evisceration and early Benighten Empire, which was formerly a Viking metal band, the current sound of the band is interesting, for lack of a better word. With the look of a deathcore band, the stage antics of a flashy, black metal band, the belligerent audience interactions of a thrash metal band, and a mix of everything from “core”, to the clean chanting of Viking metal, to the epic onslaught of black metal in their sound, Benighten Empire is utterly confused. I really wasn’t exactly sure what they were trying to accomplish onstage. It wasn’t as though they played badly, I simply wasn’t sure what they were playing or what they were doing with those upside crosses. It looked more like Justin Beiber participating in a black mass than Mayhem. Confusing, indeed. My friends and I have dubbed the band “Vikingcore”. However, Benighten Empire is not innovative enough to coin a new genre, their sound is simply immature. Given a few years, this band may hone their sound. They are still relatively new, forming only five years ago in 2008. Until then, I’d say, pass on this band.

Next up was hardcore punk act, Punching Moses. I don’t really have a whole lot to say about this band other than that they felt a little out of place up there. Maybe it’s just me, but I hate when hardcore bands open for metal bands. Stick to your genre and go play at the Spitfire. The Foundry is for metal. Not only that, but their sound quality onstage wasn’t great and the feel of the band was very common. There was really nothing special going on onstage with Punching Moses. If you’re going to call yourself punk rock, be punk rock and spit on the fucking audience or something. Upon further research, I found this band was voted “Most Un-listenable” by The Cleveland Scene. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this band un-listenable, boring is a better way to describe them. Listen for yourself.

Finally, the moment we’d all been waiting for had arrived. Macabre was set to hit the stage. Being perfectionists, Macabre took quite some time to set up. They were well worth the wait, however. Macabre certainly did celebrate Sinister Slaughter, playing songs they haven’t played in years, like Ted Bundy song, Mary Bell, Montreal Massacre and Night Stalker. As usual, vocalist Corporate Death prefaced each song with an eerie description of a serial killer’s horrific antics and exuded a larger than life stage presence. The sound quality was great and the songs were played to grindcore perfection. The audience was pumped, singing along to the songs and moshing like crazy. And even though Corporate Death, Dennis the Menace and Nefarious may have a larger than life presence onstage, they are incredibly down to earth guys off stage, interacting with fans, signing occasional autographs and watching the opening bands play. My high expectations of the evening were more than met, when Macabre finally hit the stage. If you missed them this time around, never fear. Macabre will be playing again in December for the Holiday of Horrors show with Cardiac Arrest, Witchbanger and Elbow Deep. Catch them in Chicago at Reggie’s Rock Club on 12/26/2013. Happy Listening. Hails!