The legendary Integrity is currently recording a full-length for Relapse — news that would be cause for celebration/preparation under any circumstances, but with word coming down that ex-Pulling Teeth guitarist/A389 Recordings founder/superior nasty riff generator Domenic Romeo is leading the six-string slaughter this time out feels more like some straight up Book of Revelation seal-breaking shit.
“It’s a great feeling,” Romeo tells Decibel of the union, first heard via a gloriously feral exclusive flexi. “Sometimes I imagine going back in time and interrupting the young version of myself mid-Systems Overload to tell him that he’d end up playing in the band he was listening to obsessively years from now. I also would tell him to enjoy having hair, as it’s not going to last!
“It definitely took some soul searching for me to figure it out,” he adds. “I had to make sure my own creativity was explored and satisfied while at the same time creating a record that the biggest fan of the band I know — that is, me, as a non-member — would enjoy listening to for years to come.”
While we wait to hear what he came up with, here are Romeo’s Top Ten Integrity jams…
10. “Learn to Love the Lie”
When The Blackest Curse was first released, it came off somewhat monotonous due to the lo-fi production and the songs sounding similar. However, the more time I spent with it, I began to appreciate the interplay between the musicians and song structures. This song is fairly simple but it demonstrates the clever use of a simple catchy riff for the verses and then utilizes energetic transitions to introduce other parts into the song before tying it up with the main riff again. I like how they’re buried a little in the mix which kind of creates an otherworldly illusion that Dwid is being summoned via séance instead of actually performing with the band on the record.
9. “Kingdom of Heaven”
An obscure track pulled from the split 7” with Mayday that later appeared on the Den Of Inequity compilation. I love that they not only tuned down on this record, but it feels like they intentionally performed the songs slower as well. This created the illusion that the record was playing at slightly the wrong speed…well to my ears anyway. I love the creepy intro riff that sits buried between the intro hits. I’ve heard a few bands cover this song over the years (including my old 90’s band Day Of Mourning) and I’ve never heard/seen two people play it the same way. Kinda wild. Also the death metal riffs in the middle with the insane screams is terrifying.
8. “No Time For Sudden Glances”
Closure was another record that took a while to get used to. This was definitely a stand-out track from the get-go. It sounds as if Dwid time traveled to jam with Samhain circa November Coming Fire and brought an extremely energetic drummer along for the ride. I love the way the razor-sharp chords slash through the verses and seldom find myself being able to resist the urge to sing along with the ‘whoooahs’ in the chorus.
7. “Love is the Only Weapon”
Originally released as a split 7” with Creepout, the introduction of Rob Orr on guitar was a nice change of pace from the relentless pummeling found on The Blackest Curse. Speed was exchanged for mood and the dirgy spirit of the Mayday split was conjured once again. The production managed to get even more lo-fi than The Blackest Curse but ends up coming across sounding incredibly inspired and rejuvenated. This was the beginning of a great run of releases for the band, some of their best.
6. “Diseased Prey Within Casing”
The intro riff makes me want to stop what I’m doing and start banging my head without fail. I love how hard this song hits, while keeping everything really simple and straightforward. Chris Dora is an awesome drummer who always plays exactly what the song needs and doesn’t clutter things up. I think Seasons in the Size of Days is my favorite era for Dwid’s vocals. Less brittle than the previous records and more Lemmy’s tonal qualities. I think “Rise” into “Diseased Prey” is one of, if not the best one-two punch out in metal/hardcore history.
5. “Dawn of a New Apocalypse”
The quintessential Integrity power ballad. Arrangement wise it’s fairly simple but I think the magic lies in the execution. It was a pretty brave move to do a song like this when no one else was. Especially on a hardcore record that was so sinister sounding, but they pulled it off perfectly and it doesn’t sound out of place. Still holds up as one of their best almost thirty years later.
4. “Orbital Teleplastic Emanation”
Mood is everything on this one and the intensity is cranked up to eleven. So many great things going on in this song: the spacey leads over the intro before it just dives into that super-tight stop and go hardcore and a huge mosh part at the end. All done with style and without overplaying anything. Totally dark, cold and merciless. Kinda like the henchmen in Halloween III.
3. “Trapped Under Silence”
I think this is the most apocalyptic the band has ever sounded on a recording. The guitars sound out of phase with each other and it’s really unnerving, but the riffs are so strong and the vocals are so manic…it just holds everything together and ends up making it even cooler. This one is probably the least popular song on Humanity is the Devil as it’s stacked against so many of the band’s most popular songs, but for some reason I just can’t shake it and it continues to be my go-to on that album.
2. “Armenian Persecution”
When I close my eyes during the intro all I imagine is a barren desert for miles and a blazing sun in the horizon. I love the endless layers of guitars on the intro and how it builds up into a death-march before exploding into almost Japanese style hardcore breaks, ala Lip Cream. To me, the middle-eastern flair to Aaron Melnick’s guitar playing makes this the standout track on Systems Overload. In particular there’s this one run right before the vocals kick in that quickly switches/ends on a major key, as if to create a brief moment of hope before dragging it all down into the sand again. Mark Konopka has a really unorthodox style of drumming that makes things sound really fresh and exciting on this record, despite it being the most musically ‘straightforward’ hardcore record in the band’s repertoire.
1. “Millennial Reign”
Hands down my favorite Integrity song ever put to tape. I’ve always loved how this song emanates sorrow from beginning to end. You can feel the despair in the vocal delivery. Everything from the mournful guitar harmonies over the intro riff…to the epic almost doom-y part in the middle to the gothic acoustic outro — with pig squeals. I love Integrity ‘the hardcore band as much as anyone else but it’s moments like this that truly capture how special this band is. Absolute perfection.