Welcome to Demo:listen, your weekly peek into the future of underground extreme metal. Whether they’re death, black, doom, sludge, grind, thrash, -core, heavy, speed, punk-, stoner, etc., we’re here to bring you the latest demos from the newest bands. On this week’s Demo:listen we follow the trail of discarded bones and rotting chunks of flesh until it leads us to Portland’s Ossuarium.
Released only a month ago, Ossuarium’s demo is further evidence corroborating that old truth within this underground realm of death worship. These three songs that make up Calcified Trophies of Violence prove that death metal is perennially fertile.
The band responsible for this grave monumental demo are a quartet. Guitarist Daniel Kelley handles vocals, and he started Ossuarium with Ryan Koger, who also dooms in a band called Troll.
“Daniel was coming to the Food Cart I worked at and my coworker told me he played guitar,” says Koger. “I’m pretty sure I convinced myself it was chill to just get his number from her and ask him if he wanted to jam some deathy stuff because I was aching to play fast drums again.”
Next Nate McCleary joined on lead guitar, bringing with him bassist Jeff Roman. The contributions from these two should be self-evident. McCleary is not a passive lead guitarist. He is one to solo. His fellow Ossuarium garroter, Daniel Kelley, says McCleary was “an obvious pick for lead guitar work.”
McCleary is himself more taciturn. When we ask what makes him want to play death metal, he says: “Banging my head.”
He’s done well with demo opener “Chapel of Bones” then—especially the outro. But then comes the malformed middle child, “Deleterious Mutation.” Regarding this two and a half minute abomination, Krogr explains the morbid and depressing theme behind the song,—e.g. suicide as the ultimate hallucinatory experience—then, almost as an aside, he adds: “The music was written while Daniel and I were microdosing, too.”
Fittingly, “Deleterious Mutation” is absorbed instantly into its closer, “Abhorrent Travesty on the Human Shape.” This tracks towers and casts its shadow over you long after the demo’s finished and you’ve attempted to go about your day.
Says Kelley: “‘Abhorrent Travesty’ was a song that we had been working on since the inception of the band but only started to take shape after the line-up filled out. It was one of the first songs we all wrote together and I think is the most cohesive representation of our combined skills. The song features pretty much everything I enjoy about good mid-tempo death metal. I wanted the end of our demo to end rather mysteriously. The best is yet to come.”
Mike Moore, who works at a vegan grocery store called Food Fight! with Daniel Kelley, engineered, mixed and mastered Ossuarium’s demo. The guitars were reamped in the basement. Koger recorded his drum parts then “left for a two month bike tour down the Great Divide,” according to Kelley, while the rest of the band finished the demo.
“The recording process was pretty spaced out so we had a good amount of time to get parts arranged, listen back and then tweak them which ended up helping. Mike was awesome to work with and we’re stoked on the final result.”
As of this morning there are just over a dozen copies of Calcified Trophies of Violence left for sale on Ossuarium’s Bandcamp page, with no repress on the minds of the band members. What is on their agenda is a full length. According to Kelley the writing for the full length is already underway. They intend to record it with Charlie Koryn, but not until after their summer tour.
“We are still looking at the best way to get our next release recorded and out there in the world,” says Roman. “But we’re still a pretty new band, first we just wanna play some shows and have a good time. It’s been really crazy having people actually give a shit about a band I’m in and buy the demo without seeing us live so now we gotta get out there and hesh hard.”