Premiere + Interview: Garroted – ‘Of Damnation and Abyssal Terrors’

Two years ago, when Demo:listen featured Garroted, the New England band’s demo was already several months old. This time around, however, we’re pleased for the opportunity to bring you an exclusive stream of this far out death metal quintet’s follow-up opus.

Of Damnation and Abyssal Terrors displays an astonishing growth in both musicianship and kinship within the band. While each member of Garroted definitely leveled up between their demo and now, it’s also clear that Garroted itself grew into a more cohesive unit.  And no wonder, considering how busy Garroted have been these past two years. 

Without further ado then, this is Of Damnation and Abyssal Terrors, the new EP from Massachusetts’ Garroted—plus an interview with Garroted’s drummer, Steven Peyton.

 

 

Your demo came out almost exactly two years ago. What’s the timeline between then and now, as far as these four new tracks are concerned? When were they written, recorded, and with whom?

The songwriting process began the summer after the release of In the Court. Overall, everything took place and had the final arrangement one would hear on the recordings within the span of about five months. We started with the skeleton of what would eventually become “Otherworldly Subversions” parts I and II around July 2016 (sounded much different at the time). “Crimson Thirst” was written by Ray on his own in the span of three days that August, and performed for the first time with Blood Incantation and Nucleus on 9/20/16. Writing for the two longer form songs (as we do consider “Otherworldly Subversions” one song) took place over the following months and was completed in January 2017, at which point I began recording drums at the end of that month.

As before, we decided to work with our friend and co-conspirator Sean Hart for the production– he’s responsible for all tracking, mixing and mastering of our music so far, and we’re quite happy with the results. The recording process was a bit more extended than initially planned (as in fact, we had originally intended to release this EP last March): all rhythm tracks were completed by the beginning of March 2017, where we began vocals, but had to temporarily halt the process to play a flurry of shows that month (including a 4 day raid throughout the northeast). Lead guitars were finished in mid-April, and vocals were finished in two separate sessions, one in June and one in August. During this time, we also embarked on a 9 date, 10 day tour of the East Coast with our South American brothers Condor in July (more on that later).

 

What happened within the band during that two year gap between recordings?

Many things, increased technical skill being one example. Some developments will only be truly understood among ourselves and close friends, these being changes that have taken over place over time in the practice room. The most significant one in 2016 was probably the decision to part ways with our old bassist at the end of September, at which point we added KJ, who has proven to be a more than capable replacement in the time since then. 2017 saw us draw close to 50 people to a single show in Boston by ourselves, play almost triple the amount of shows we did in 2016, embark on two tours, and share a stage with such bands as Gorguts, Tomb Mold, Abnormality, Desolate, and last but not least, the amazing Condor. Playing with a consistent lineup through more than 40 shows and two tours has built our chemistry as a band significantly, and we encourage anyone interested in discerning the true essence of Garroted to witness our live performance.

 

Thematically speaking, how does Of Damnation and Abyssal Terrors differ from In the Court?

This is an interesting question. In some ways, the overall themes are fairly similar: foul magic, unclean spirits, the occult, dark fantasy, etc. This release takes a different approach by attempting to arrange these themes into more specific, purposeful narratives. In addition, we placed a greater focus on unifying our music, lyrics, and artwork (the artwork of the EP is a combination of scenes from the lyrics of “Otherworldly Subversions”: it is the otherworldly subversion). On our demo, this form of songwriting is only really displayed in “A Ritual Profane” (as in I specifically wrote the lyrics to convey scenes timed with the music). We are still in the process of refining it.

Lyrically, the EP features two fairly simple stories spread over four tracks: an apocalyptic tale of a nightmarish calamity culminating in the presence of a demonic invasion of the Earth, checked only by the final intervention of the archangel Michael and his retinue (with this being a pyrrhic victory, ultimately). Secondly, a man in a different part of the world, under influences unknown to him, is driven mad and murders both his adulterous wife and brother before burning their residence to the ground (“Crimson Thirst”). He then travels through the wilderness immediately following the deed on horseback, wracked by conflicting memories and sensations. He eventually locates a group of cultists in the wilds, and kills them, taking a book bound in human flesh from their leader’s corpse. This book contains esoteric knowledge of a highly sensitive and dangerous nature, and as the song ends, is described to have begun communicating with both the narrator and his weapon. It concludes with a quiet, ambient section that I envisioned as being representative of different scenes in a broken memory—emotions, sensations, and memories colliding at once. Perhaps our listeners will disagree.

Could we get a track-by-track breakdown? 

Firstly, what is important for us to stress is that we view “Otherworldly Subversions” as a single thirteen minute song which is simply split into two tracks for the purposes of formatting, and that it does not end or begin, but continues until the climactic solo section. We will never perform one part without the other live, and have done so for more than a year now. Secondly, these songs are intended to be listened to as one views the artwork and reads the lyrics at once. We believe that simply listening to “the riffs” with no concern for the lyrics is not the full representation of the music of Garroted, and this will reflect our approach moving forward. As for the individual tracks…

“Otherworldly Subversions: The Crucible” – arguably the most technical music we have ever composed, and our first to feature odd time signatures (specifically 7/8). This part introduces the story, and also demonstrates a new, more long-form approach to writing that we didn’t employ in creating our demo. Those who pay attention will notice the presence of motifs at the beginning of The Crucible which are present in the middle and end of Pandemonium, but really the entire composition displays this trait. We wish to say only that this is there, and leave the specific details of understanding to the listener.

“Pandemonium” – somewhat of a chance for me to show some different things as a drummer, being less fast relative to the other material. This song represents the recording debut of Jerry as co-lead guitarist, who has been a part of the band for several years, but hasn’t recorded with us until this release. It also contains more opportunity for interpretation in a live setting, as we often play this slower than it was recorded at, and I never try to do the same thing twice in taking my solo. Conceptually, this should be understood as the full-blown invasion of demons upon the Earth, followed by the eventual counterattack led by the archangel Michael. Per Jerry himself, he envisions his solo representing the state of being entirely alone within the frozen depths of space.

“Crimson Thirst” – this is the oldest song on the release as previously stated. This track is pretty straight forward with little in the way of subtlety aside from the inter-connected nature of the riffs. Careful listeners will note the presence of common motifs throughout the entire EP, but this song is a demonstration of what can be achieved simply by developing two riffs. We also would note that the solo section is a trade-off between Jerry and Ray.

“Into the Shivering Forest” – to me, this song is what will determine someone really likes Garroted or not. Though we are proud of it, I have anticipated some divisiveness (perhaps from people who dislike lead guitar pyrotechnics or ambiance). There are many different elements at play here, and it has the most counterpoint of the release, but the ultimate goal of the piece is an unbroken melodic flow of linked ideas. It’s also probably our most “blackened” song. We would like for one’s imagination to run wild in the last two minutes: consider the tome bound in flesh, a tome which speaks of the conjuration of demons, of runic incantations, of the ageless laughter of ancient gods, and spatial geometry beyond human understanding, and this foul book’s influence on the narrator.

 

What did you learn from the success of your demo that you put to action for the release of Of Damnation and Abyssal Terrors?

We learned that people actually care about our music, for one thing!

In all seriousness, the biggest lesson that we learned would most likely be that having physical merchandise ready in time for the release is a good idea. This may seem like common sense, but we actually didn’t have any plans to release the demo on a physical format at all before demand started to build, and had no real form of merchandise until September 2016. Obviously, we are doing things differently now as we have shirts, CDs, and tapes (not as of this writing, but soon) out of the gate. We also learned the value of overseas distribution, as shipping individual packages can be rather expensive ($13 for a single CD in a bubble mailer, for those curious).

 

Tell us about tour with Condor.

It was a truly wild and eye-opening experience in many ways. Most of all, meeting a band from a different continent for the first time and becoming good friends with them over the course of a week prior to embarking on our journey was rewarding in and of itself (driving to Logan Airport during rush hour traffic was also quite fun). We met a lot of interesting people, ate some delicious food, and saw cool things (some spectacular lightning over Saint Petersburg, FL on the last night being an example). Attendance at some of the shows themselves was fairly minimal in some cases (two who paid then left during the first set being the worst!), but mostly everyone who witnessed the performance of Condor was taken aback by the potency and vision of their music. In some cases, people traveled specifically to see either Garroted or Condor (including a man who drove from Ohio to Massachusetts to see Condor). To those who did, we owe you our undying gratitude. There is probably much more I’ve left out (such as almost being kicked out of the venue in Pennsylvania for having underage members, me being absolutely ruined by a single slice of Flying J pizza in Virginia and having food poisoning for 7 hours to name only two), but needless to say it was a true adventure.

We also encourage anyone who remains unfamiliar with the discography of Condor to explore their music.

 

What are the details on the physical manifestation of this new beast?

We’ve ordered 500 CDs and we’ll send them anywhere in the world (so far, the UK, Quebec, Dubai, Switzerland, Netherlands, Poland, Philippines, Portugal, Australia, Russia as well as Colombia and India via the USA). We’re also working on distribution of these in Europe, Canada and South America for those who don’t want to pay for shipping or deal with customs (our eternal gratitude to those who have made the choice to do so regardless). Cassettes will be released via Timeworn Records and also available overseas once distribution is complete. We have no plans for a vinyl release at this time– however, we are open to working with a label on one provided they are willing to make a deal for just the one release. Any interested parties should contact us at garrotedmusic@gmail.com.

As an aside, we’ve had a few people ask why we chose not to formally sign with a label (our association with Timeworn is a verbal agreement, and we’re free to do as we choose). There are different possible answers we could give, but the primary reason is that we have wanted this to be released for so long now (in fact, more than a year) that we simply weren’t interested in waiting on someone else’s timetable. We did communicate with some labels that are well-known in the underground nonetheless, but ultimately decided not to make a deal.

 

What’s next for Garroted as far as live shows or touring?

We are in the midst of planning an 8-day tour of the Middle Atlantic, Southeast and Midwest with Locus Mortis from Long Island (six of the eight dates are confirmed as of this writing) starting on August 10th through 18th. More information to come soon.

Aside from that, our current performance schedule is as follows:

April 20 in Clementon, NJ with Ground, Organ Trail, Triple Cripple and more

April 28 in Portland, ME with Shabti, Grue, and Apollyon

May 2nd in Worcester, MA with Demilich, Blood Incantation and Scaphism

May 21st in Cambridge, MA with Defeated Sanity, Behold… the Arctopus and Scaphism

May 22nd in Providence, RI with Defeated Sanity, Behold… the Arctopus and Lower the Casket

June 21st in Providence, RI with Perdition Temple, One Master and Blessed Offal

July 20 in Florence, MA with Unflesh and more

In addition to this, we will be performing at Saint Vitus Bar on Saturday, September 29th as part of the third annual edition of Metal Punk Death Fest 3 for our first appearance in New York City since March 2017.

We will have more to announce soon.

In closing, we’d like to thank our friends and families, Dutch and Decibel for granting us the opportunity to premiere our EP, any of our fans who have bought merch, came out to a show, or just listened to our music and enjoyed it, anyone who has helped book us at home or far away from it, and all the bands we’ve made friends with over the past two years of playing out. We have many ambitions that we plan to realize over the coming years, and our campaign has only just begun, but we could not do this alone. Thank you.