Welcome to Demo:listen, your weekly peek into the future of underground metal. Whether it’s death, black, doom, sludge, grind, thrash, heavy, speed, progressive, stoner, retro, post-, etc. we’re here to bring you the latest demos from the newest bands. On this week’s Demo:listen, we sing the praises of the Slime God in vain hope that doing so might preserve us against that awful deity invoked by San Jose’s Disincarnation.
As suggested by its title, By the Old Gods and the New, Disincarnation’s demo seems somehow apart from time’s reckoning. Because although this San Jose trio are, as it turns out, rather young, and despite their somewhat disparate influences, Disincarnation have worked together to bring forth a demo both worthy of the old gods, and threatening to the new.
Once again, we here at Demo:listen found the band’s interview answers to be so refreshingly candid, not to mention well-stated, that we decided to present the interview in full. Below you’ll find a thoroughly informative conversation with Disincarnation’s Andrew (guitar, vox, bass), AK (guitar, bass, vox), and Ramon (drums).
By the Old Gods and the New was released ten days ago on pro-tape by one of the US’s hottest underground labels, Unspeakable Axe Records. Get one before it’s too late.
You describe yourselves “Doomy grinding death metal madness.” What does the madness represent? How does that factor into the categorization of your music?
Andrew: Obviously we’re into death/doom, grindcore, death metal: we want to hit you with a big Bolt Thrower riffy groove, but then flip on a dime to Insect Warfare or PLF style chaos. The groove/grind dynamic is chaotic, basically how I imagine the fragmented mind of a mad person would function.
How did you three come to play in Disincarnation together?
Andrew: We met through the magic of the internet around August last year. It’s kind of funny, I actually wasn’t really listening to death metal at all until late 2014. I was mostly into wimpy stuff like In Flames or Wintersun, but then I heard Horrendous’ Ecdysis and Dead Congregation’s Promulgation of the Fall and I was like… holy fuck I need to get a band and start playing this shit. This would actually be my first band, but I know AK drummed on the Glass Shrine demo and Ramon’s been playing out live in local bands in the area for years.
Ramon: I was on a break from music and inactive for a few years after my last death metal band, but I started to attend more live shows and got the itch to play drums again. I wanted to play in your face raw brutal metal and really push my abilities of playing. I wanted to play with passionate musicians who took their music serious and really wanted to put out a genuinely heavy sound.
AK: I’d been playing in a number of bands spanning a menagerie of genres for years leading up to Disincarnation, none of which really ended up going anywhere. I was looking for a second guitarist for one such project when I met Andrew via a Craigslist ad; since that project was more in the vein of brutal death metal, we decided to get a new thing going more rooted in OSDM based around bands like Asphyx, Bolt Thrower, Entombed, etc. Ramon answered a CL ad for a drummer not long after that, and that more or less established the foundation for Disincarnation.
Talk to me about “Prayer for Total Death.” I love this song, what’s it all about?
Andrew: Mostly it’s about failure. I love Dead Congregation but I think the anti-religious angle is kind of played out at this point and wouldn’t really be authentic for us. So it’s kind of about negative cycles of failure, inflated ego, and how people internalize that cognitive dissonance. I think in a way people worship themselves, so I wanted to twist the typical “blaargh fuck Jesus” subject matter so that it’s talking about the self as god. When people are confronted with failure, especially failure when it’s a direct result of their own actions, they tend to lash out and perpetuate a self destructive negative cycle.
AK: Prayer for Total Death was actually the first song we wrote after Andrew and I decided to get Disincarnation going; I was definitely channeling a lot of Bolt Thrower and Slugathor when we wrote those riffs. So on the musical end of things, it’s all about grooves, grooves, grooves.
Who are some of your biggest influences from your home state of California?
Andrew: Vastum and Autopsy of course, I love their brand of death/doom. Spinebreaker, their 2016 album Ice Grave has some of the filthiest HM-2 I’ve ever heard and I’m all about HM-2. Also Yngwie Malmsteen, I know he’s from Sweden but he was brought to LA in the 80s to play for Alcatrazz and Steeler and that’s really when he blew up, so I think he counts for California.
AK: While I do dig a lot of Californian death metal that falls on the more brutal end of the spectrum—Deeds of Flesh and Disgorge come to mind—most of the more OSDM influences I bring to Disincarnation are from beyond California’s borders (unless you want to declare Undergang honorary Californians– they might take exception to the warm weather, though).
Ramon: The biggest influences for me and my style of drumming are pretty much an amalgam of several genres of heavy hard hitting drummers throughout several eras of music. If we’re strictly talking about California bands/Drummers, in no order would be: Slayer’s Dave Lombardo, Rage Against the Machine’s Brad Wilk, Faith No More’s Mike Bordin, Fear Factory/Brujeria’s Raymond Herrera, Emilio Marquèz from Possessed/Sadistic Intent/Asesino. I try to listen to as many different styles of heavy music and apply those drastically different methods to create my own version of what I think a metal drummer should sound like.
Have you played live yet? If so, who played bass and who played guitar?
Andrew: Not yet. I only started growling when the band formed, I haven’t had a lot of time to learn how to sing and play at the same time, and AK can’t either. We have harmonized guitar parts, so the plan would be for both of us to play guitar, but playing live is delayed until one of us can sing and play simultaneously or we find a dedicated singer. If there’s any vocalists in the Bay who worships at the altar of Asphyx reading this, message us!
Who performs the solos on the demo?
Andrew: For “Prayer . . .” there are 4 little mini solos that break up the verse riff with vocals. On the first trade off, AK plays first and I play second. On the second trade off, I go first. The solos in Doomed and Slime God are both played by me. Guys like Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, Allan Holdsworth are a big influence on my soloing but I tried to keep the arpeggio stuff sequenced in interesting ways. Playing straight through big sweeping shapes sounds boring to me, so I tried to string skip like PG does or do smaller shapes that sound a little more rock-n-roll when repeated as opposed to that tech death “bloopy” sort of sweep.
AK: I’m not really a lead guitarist at heart, but when I do write leads I’m usually drawing on the influence of guitarists like Leon Macey (of Mithras notoriety) and Chuck Schuldiner.
When you have a title as specific as “Talisman . . .” I know it has to be about something true-to-life and interesting. What’s this song all about?
Andrew: The title is a silly riff on Nile’s ridiculously long song names. The song itself is about Chinese hopping vampire/zombies or jiangshi. Traditionally they’re corpses whose bodies have grown so stiff their knees and hips can’t bend anymore, so they can only move about by jumping. Jiangshi are blind but they can smell your life force, or qi, that’s expelled in your breath, so if you ever encounter one, you have to hold your breath until it’s gone. In all the old Hong Kong zombie movies, Taoist priests battle these zombies with magic talismans made of yellow paper that the priest sticks to their face. With the talisman on the zombie can’t move. This is often played for comedy in movies where the characters are about to get eaten when someone saves them in the nick of time with the magic talisman but when you think about it it’s actually pretty horrifying; if even a small breeze blows it off then you’ve got this unkillable pissed off corpse inches from your nose trying to suck out your life energy. At some point I’d like to translate the lyrics to Mandarin or Taiwanese and record the vocals like that but the band is American . . . maybe as a digital bonus track.
What’s next for Disincarnation?
Andrew: Full length album, hopefully some live shows soon. Writing’s going really well and the new songs are definitely a lot more diverse while still retaining that OSDM foundation the band’s sound is built on– we’re really looking forward to bringing those songs and the earlier ones to a live setting soon.
This demo is the first thing I’ve ever recorded and mixed, so there’s still a lot of room to grow, not all our releases will be this raw. AK drums for another band, Draghkar, and I engineered the drum recording for their demo World Unravelled, which is coming out on tape from Witchhammer Productions. I think they’re going to be doing another EP soon, and I’ll also be engineering the drums on that and hopefully get some more experience. I made a bunch of silly drum recording mistakes on our own demo, but I think I’ve learned quite a bit so you can expect an all out drum assault on Disincarnation’s full length. No promises on when though!
You heard Disincarnation here first on Demo:listen. Check this space next and every Friday for promising new metal.