Angrier and Faster: An Interview with Corrupt Moral Altar

UK grind maniacs Corrupt Moral Altar boast an impressive ability to write blistering grindcore, as their new album, Eunoia, attests. Decibel caught up with guitarist John Cooke—who you might recognize from bands like Napalm Death—to talk about the new album, available for free streaming and download on Bandcamp.

The lyrics on Eunoia are pretty intense- what ideas were you writing about on the album? Are lyrics a primary focus for Corrupt Moral Altar?
Yeah, the lyrics have been very important to CMA right from the start. We’ve left them open for interpretation, but they are very personal. A lot has happened over the last few years during the making of Eunoia, both in our own lives and in the world in general. Reese wrote the majority of the lyrics on this record, and I know he put all of himself into them.

You could even view them separate from the music as diary entries or short poems about how fucked modern life is. The first line on “Human Cry” is “This town has a drug problem,” which pretty much sums up life in the forgotten shitty towns of England. There is nothing to do, depression is everywhere and no one has any money so you end up stuck in an endless cycle which we later refer to in the same song with the line “I am but a fly, drowning in the piss of life.”

I wont speak on behalf of Reese’s lyrics and his mental state at the time, but when going into record Eunoia I myself was in quite a bad place mentally and physically. I’ll be honest, I have all sorts of health problems which have resulted in me being in chronic constant pain, luckily though I have found an amazing release through writing and playing in Corrupt Moral Altar. The lyrics and themes may seem very depressing, but they feel like a form of therapy.

Corrupt Moral Altar have now put out two albums, two EPs and a split since 2013. How has your sound as a band evolved from Luciferian Deathcult to Eunoia?
When we originally put the band together, it was on the basis that the songs be easy to play drunk! The earlier songs on Luciferian were really simple to play, we wanted to the band to be heavy, simple and have the fuck off spirit of punk rock. The more we played together, everything just seemed to gel more, and we kind of realized “fuck genres, let’s just play whatever we want,” and it’s just developed from there. Eunoia is a lot angrier than previous releases and we have kicked it up a gear speed-wise. It wasn’t intended like that, we just seemed to naturally progress.

Photo credit: Vicky Pea Photography

You play live guitar with Napalm Death, and you’re also in a handful of other bands. How do you balance them all, especially with frequent releases?
Yeah I’ve been playing live guitar for Napalm for 3 years now, and been in Venomous Concept since the USA tour in 2010. It is difficult, but I have a tendency to go a bit mad if I’m not busy making music or playing gigs. That’s one of the reasons I try to stay so busy. Sometimes I can’t play CMA gigs, which sucks, but Napalm is so busy, and pretty much on the road all the time. That’s the main reason Adam moved to guitar and we brought Ollie in on bass. He used to play in Narcosis, who were fucking amazing if you haven’t checked them out before.

I’ve actually got another project I’m working on right now with Chris Reese [Corrupt Moral Altar], Shane Embury [Napalm Death, Brujeria] and Tomas Lindberg [At the Gates]. It’s a almost noise band but I’m not a big fan of pigeon-holing things. It’s noisy and angry and sad, just all round uncomfortable listening.

Can you talk about the artwork for Eunoia? It was done by Chris Catterall- how did you find Catterall’s art? Was the art commissioned or was it a piece that he had already completed?
Chris was commissioned to do the art and exchanged ideas back and forth with Reese until we came to the final piece. He’d previously done some artwork for one of Reese’s other bands (Evisorax) and Tom’s [Dring, drums] studio Vagrant Recordings, and we felt his style would fit with the overall vibe of the record.