Demo:listen: Blood Spore

Blood Spore’s demo Fungal Warfare Upon All Life came out last April, and has only grown in size, grossness, and potency since. A 3-track, multi-genre, time-bending, mind-blowing beast of a demo. We here at Demo:listen spent several weeks submerged in its depths before we felt comfortable enough to approach its authors, to inquire into its provenance. Here’s what we know now . . .

Like that weird kingdom from which they derive their name, themes, lyrics, and artwork, Blood Spore grew in a damp dark corner of the world. In this case it was the city of Philadelphia during the summer of 2018. According to the band, it all began “when [drummer] Fred [Grabosky] and Jessi Nicosia started playing together. Fred had wanted to start a fungus-themed death metal band for a few months after becoming completely obsessed with parasitic fungi and twisted sci-fi stories of evil fungus creatures taking over. Jessi was living with [guitarist] Luke [Gary] at the time. One night when Luke came from work, Fred and Jessi asked him to play along with some of the songs they were working on. We wrote a few songs together with this lineup when [bassist] Chris Emerson joined, after contacting Luke about the project. Chris immediately fell in the groove with our material and had assumed vocal duties like a champion. We continued jamming on those songs for a few weeks. At one point Jessi couldn’t make it to practice and we ended up writing ‘Hostile Fruiting Bodies’ in something like two hours. Stunned with the new sound, and the ease that came from writing it we brought it to the next practice and gave it a shot. We all couldn’t quite resolve the new sound with what we already had written, so we shelved it for a few weeks. Eventually Jessi opted out of the band to focus on other projects. With our new lineup and sound, we dove deeper into the concept of creepy fungal growth hellbent on the extinction of the living. Luke blew us away with his innovative riffs and we felt things coming together quite quickly. We agreed to trust Luke with taking on more of a writing role. We created Fungal Warfare Upon All Life in a matter of weeks and debuted these songs in our first show with Crawl, Haunter, and Crowhurst to a very receptive crowd.”

Fungal Warfare Upon All Life

The band continues: “We’ve recently added Kyler Bartee after getting a solid feeling he’d be the right guy to assume the role of second guitarist. We all met up [with Kyle] at Maryland Deathfest of 2019 after Immolation played. The EP had been out and he was big into the sound and concept, plus we heard he could play. The vote was unanimous that we’d have him join in to practice. After a few practices, we knew he’d be a perfect fourth to the fungal fold. We are stoked to have him.”

We ask the band to explain their sound a little more. The fungal focus, we think, deserves a little exploration. The band says: “We all collectively have an interest in decomposition. Fred in particular has had a decay theme in his artwork for the past few years and specifically wanted to incorporate fungal themes into his music. Luke has had a music electronics side-business that is fungus themed by the way of Ergot on Rye called Rye Effects Research and also wanted to take a crack at mycological riffing. Chris is a creative writing powerhouse that has been able to dredge up some very interesting takes on our fungal outlook on life. I think that when we all get together, fungus tends to be a natural common denominator for a creative source.”

As for that psychedelic, moving-before-your-very-eyes logo? It came from within the band, too. According to Blood Spore, it was their drummer Fred who created the Blood Spore trippy dripper. “Fred runs FTG Illustrations, and his artwork and style PERFECTLY fits the theme of this project. We wouldn’t ever go with anyone else.

“With the fungal theme in mind, I had already created a body of work depicting Ophiocordyceps fungi taking over multiple walks of life,” explains Fred. “I was already tapped into the mindset to create an evil and ominous, illegible logo that was unique and stood out from other death metal bands. I will admit the abstract and gross art by Manifester (Spectral Voice, Blood Incantation, etc.) and the Triumvir Foul logo by Samu Salovaara served as an inspiration.”

Their demo, however, was written as a collective. “The EP came out of us writing ‘Hostile [Fruiting Bodies].’ We really wanted to push for that sound, Luke came up with about 7 or so rough ideas at home and brought them to the practice room/ We let them mold over between the three of us until we had Fungal Warfare Upon All Life written. Once we had the songs in the room, it maybe took us three or four sessions to really solidify the base of each song, all of the more subtle embellishments came after drilling the material. This process has worked pretty well. Since we added Kyler to the lineup as a second guitar player this has added a new and interesting dynamic to the writing process, a big positive for sure. Nonetheless, our writing process will most likely continue along similar lines.”

To record their demo, Blood Spore went to local studio, Red Water Recording.

“Will Mellor is a fellow sick musician in the Philly scene. He had recorded some things for Basilysk and Necrosexual that Luke was a part of, as well as having toured extensively with Fred when in Sadgiqacea and recording God Root’s first EP. Will was a really natural choice, expecially after hearing Life Assisted Suicide by Moros, which he recorded, mixed, and mastered. Then we were all blown away by the job he did with the ‘Cryptic Visions’ single by Outer Heaven [featured in this sold-out issue] which dropped after we recorded with him. He was and is a very easy person to work with. He knows what he is doing.”

The band continues, describing the recording process . . .

“We actually recorded the day after our first show with Will, intending it to be a tape demo. But the sound he was able to get was so unbelievable to us that we said “F*** it, lets just make this an EP”. The biggest difference for sure would be Chris’ vocals. Fred and Luke were sitting next to Will when he did his vocal take, and were expecting a more guttural delivery similar to every practice before that day and the show a few days earlier. BUT INSTEAD, he brought this eerie, vocal cords covered in slime mold, evil rasp that we were totally not expecting. We actually laughed at first and almost ruined the first take! Once we heard the sound coming from the monitors we knew it was a perfect sound for the recording.”The band self-released Fungal Warfare Upon All Life, and those CDs are long sold out. Luckily, Blood Spore have since inked a deal with a global heavyhitter so there’ll be plenty of fungal death on all the relevant formats for all of us in the very near future hooray!

“Funny story, there is definitely a lesson here for other bands… CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDER!” says Blood Spore. “Blood Harvest had actually reached out to us a week or so after we released the EP (April 5th 2019) but it was unfortunately moved to our spam folder so we did not see it. It wasn’t until we started reaching out to labels months later that he got back to us and basically said ‘I didn’t hear back from you so I figured you weren’t interested’ We totally were! 

We are currently writing our full length right now along with some other material that Blood Harvest will be helping out with. We are excited.

“We hope to have a full-length done within the year,” says Blood Spore. “We are hoping to paint more of a story with the full length. One of my favorite ideas right now is following the evolution of our fungal overlord(s). Starting millenia ago when complex organisms crawled from the primordial ooze, when fungus was the singular decomposing force on the planet. Then its burgeoning, acrimonious consciousness developing with the dawn of man hand in hand in interesting ways. That’s all for now, not going to give it all away! On top of that, we are hoping to tour with other sick bands, keep churning out killer-yet-bleak tracks, and bring out some new fungal merch.”

That’s plenty to look forward, and Blood Spore can’t bring it on soon enough. Safe to say, we’ll be there.

And all those who are even semi-local should be here: