Demo:listen: Evulse

Even though Demo:listen runs almost weekly there are still a number of bands we never get the chance to feature. Oakland, California-based death metal quintet Evulse are one such band. Call of the Void, their demo from 2018, marks an authoritative and exemplary debut. The first half passes by like a violent stabbing attack x 2, the title track seems to say, “Okay, you want slow? How’s this?!” [evil laughter as they turn the wheel of The Rack]. Then it’s back to the feeding frenzy for the closer. An incredible demo, and we didn’t even know about it until recently. 

Then, last Friday, Evulse released a second demo! Dubbed Pustulant Spawn, Evulse’s new demo shows a band grown into their own savage power. Where before their sound rode on a wave of unbridled chaos ever on the brink of going rogue and harming any and all within earshot, including the band themselves. On Pustulant Spawn Evulse sound poised and hyperaware as they direct all killing energies toward the listener. We reached out immediately. We may not have a time machine, but we got a tape player!

Pustulant Spawn

Like its predecessor, Pustulant Spawn came out on Transylvania Tapes. Founded nine years ago, the cassette label is owned by Jimmy, also Evulse’s vocalist—plus Swamp Witch, Caffa, GraveCoven, and so on. We caught up with Jimmy and some of the other guys from Evulse to reach our hands into these demos and feel around . . .

“The formation of [Evulse] was pretty organic,” begins Jimmy, Evulse’s hydra-throated frontman. “We have all been friends for a number of years and our other bands have all played together and supported one another for over a decade. One of my favorite bands to play shows with back in the day was this killer group called Bruxers, which was the band Colin Tarvin was playing in alongside Chad Gailey. Swamp Witch and Bruxers played together often. When Bruxers split up in 2012, Mortuous was already taking shape and I recruited their drummer Chad to join my Death Metal band Caffa. The first Caffa show was with Mortuous in 2011 and a few months later is when Chad joined the band, my memory is a little hazy for reasons I will leave up to the imagination but I believe around the same time is when Chad also started working on Necrot and several other bands. Caffa was around for a number of years but we only recorded a couple of demos, which I am finally releasing as a compilation tape this month, it was off-kilter Finnish worshiping Death Doom. Before we laid Caffa to rest we were kicking around the idea of bringing in two different drummers to play for us, one was this guy named Matt Thompson who is on the first Evulse demo and the other was Johnny Valles. Matt was playing in a Grindcore band called DeathgraVe at the time but they were still training him and he didn’t feel totally comfortable with playing Death Metal yet. Johnny was more comfortable with filling the role but he lived several hours away and for me playing with Chad was basically the whole reason I even did Caffa so I was willing to let it just be done with to focus on other things. Matt Thompson really dedicated himself to obsessively training and playing drums and wanted to play Death Metal really bad, he hooked up with Colin and they started working on riffs together. Around the same time Mike and I were trying to put together a really depressive death rock band but not having luck with finding a reliable drummer. I knew Mike for a while as well and always wanted to play music with him, I played several shows and shared a home with his bandmates in Augurs, I always dug his energy, focus and commitment so I was super onboard to create with him. Clint and Colin were already playing with one another in Mortuous, Chad Gailey also joined Mortuous so the circle was always really close. When Evulse was getting a bit more serious and looking to fill out the lineup, Matt Thompson wanted me to join the band as the vocalist and Colin had picked Clint Roach to play bass, from there Clint was like let’s get Mike to play guitar and we’ve just been getting after it since then. Clint, Colin, and I lived together for quite awhile so it just made sense for us. Evulse differs from our other projects because it is not as grandiose, we want it to be nasty and fucked up sounding, we have all played in grindcore bands (Disinhibition, Socioclast, Deadpressure, Limbs, Fiend, DeathgraVe, Your Enemy & Augurs) and we bring that sort of ferocity along with a love of Death Metal to Evulse.”

To evulse something is to extract it forcibly. We ask them how they came up with their name and how it fits their sound. 

“It sounds fucking cool, right?” Jimmy replies. “One word band names that haven’t been used and abused are hard to come by, the word Evulse elicits a visceral sort of impactful energy and the psychology behind the horror of ripping something out evokes a sense of dread that makes sense for the style of music that we are playing.” 

Jimmy goes on to explain the themes behind his lyrics on Pustulant Spawn. He says, “Thematically and lyrically my focus borders on the edge of insanity and madness. The mental decay of the human condition and the true horror of existence and inconsequentiality.” 

Pustulant Spawn has a much different atmosphere than Call of the Void. It’s grosser,  and it feels stronger, like Evulse are in better control of their urge to kill via death metal. We ask the band if they think those are fair assessments. 

Jimmy says, “Definitely, the goal with the first demo was to make a statement, like y’all like death metal? We do too. We had several songs to choose from to record for the first demo and we deliberately picked the ones we did to showcase an array of different styles within the realms of extreme metal knowing full well that some of the earliest tracks we were writing had more of a black metal tinge to them and that we wanted to hold off on putting those out until the second recording came out that way we could show we aren’t some one trick pony that is just aping classic death metal bands from the ‘90s, we are also aping classic black metal bands as well.

“One other thing that definitely influenced the rich atmosphere in this recording was our mutual love of King Diamond,” Jimmy adds. “We all went out together to see King Diamond in San Francisco right before we recorded so that definitely pumped us up and you can hear some more experimental guitar licks on this one where on the first demo there was just a lot of dive bombs, which are sick but it is like barely anyone is doing tasteful solos anymore in death metal so we wanted to bring some of the classic sound to our music to stand apart from the army of clones.”  

“On this new release we took a different approach,” says Michael, one-half of Evulse’s two-guitar attack. “We shared some of the writing and ideas which naturally gave it a different feel with the input from myself and the others. These songs just seemed to set up nicely together so we just went with it.” 

“As far as the songs go, the mood had to be very fluid and I remember recommending the order of the songs we had because I wanted it to feel like one structural piece,” the band’s bassist, Clint adds. “The transitions to the songs were really huge overall. I enjoyed how the songs blend really well together as a listener and I highly recommend anyone who gives it a listen to play it from beginning to end.”

And we recommend playing from beginning to end over and over again like some cruel Hell you’ve trapped yourself in.  

“I’m happy with all the tracks but my favorite is ‘Worms Made Flesh,’” Michael reflects. “Mostly because of all the variety of riff changes and tempos working together nicely into one short song. It just came out pretty solid in my mind.”

Johnny has to agree. “‘Worms Made Flesh’ [is] the first song I got to start from scratch on with the guys and I feel like it is a good sign of the slight style change that came with me joining the band.”

The mighty Fred Avila (Unurnment, Abysmalist) recorded, mixed and mastered Pustulant Spawn

“Musically we were tighter and more rehearsed for the recording this time around,” Jimmy admits. “‘Pustulant Spawn’ and ‘Depraved Sancity’ are two of the oldest songs we wrote so we had been playing them for almost twice the amount of time as we were playing the first demo songs. Jacob did a great job for us, I have worked with him several times before and always been really happy with the results but on the first Evulse recording I kinda felt bad for Jacob because he is such a good sound engineer and we just kept telling him make this sound shittier and muddier.”  

“I’ve recorded with Fred three times now with Mortuous, Disinhibition, and now Evulse,” says Colin. “[Fred’s] really a recording savant, and also he understands what we want.”

“We finished recording this album last year and went on a small west coast tour a few weeks before the lockdown happened,” Jimmy recalls. “The next weekend after that string of shows our other bands Swamp Witch and Mortuous played together in Oakland. Johnny Valles, who is on the new Evulse recording, played drums for Swamp Witch at the show so that was pretty cool to get to do. Right after that Colin and Clint flew out to Mexico to play Total Death with their band Mortuous and that ended up being the last underground death metal festival before the world shut down. The borders closed the day after they got home so that was pretty wild. Mortuous was also supposed to tour Europe with our friends in Hyperdontia, but it was too risky so that got cancelled as well. Other than that this pandemic didn’t really affect us too much outside of not being able to jam and work on new music but shit happens, sucks for us but it sucks for a lot more people that were devastated with death due to this outbreak.”

Regarding Pustulant Spawn’s radioactive new artwork, Jimmy explains, “Colin and I are both pretty big fans of airbrush artwork but we didn’t want to use someone that a bunch of people have already worked with so we started looking for violent comic book artists. We came across Aaron Lee on Instagram and instantly started chopping it up with him. He is a bay area local so it is great to be able to support a local artist and his vision and execution is super sick. For folks that purchase the physical album, you will be able to check out the work in its full glory.”  

Since finishing recording Pustulant Spawn, Evulse have kept busy at their jobs while planning their next move as a sa band. According to Jimmy, “A majority of the band work as painters and we recently painted our buddy Greg Wilkinson’s legendary palace Earhammer Studios. So we are going to be working with him in the near future to record some more. We are gonna be working on a split release with our friends in Sepulchral Curse from Finland and we are trying to figure out which band in America we want to work with. We’ve been leaning towards this absolutely disgusting band RUIN from Los Angeles. In my opinion they are one of the best fucking straight-up vicious Death Metal bands in the Underground right now but they do so many goddamn splits so we might do one with their other band Vrenth. Well see how it plays out, we love those mfers so maybe well just do 10 billion splits as well.”  

Regarding physical incarnations of Pustulant Spawn, Jimmy says, “I am handling the US version on my label Transylvanian Tapes and I am partnering up with Dawnbreed Records for a LP release together. Dawnbreed will also be taking care of the Euro Tape. Godz Ov War Productions is going to be handling the CD version for us. We worked with both labels for Call of the Void so we are happy to continue working with them for Pustulant Spawn.”

In closing, the band says, “Thanks for the opportunity to shoot the shit and thanks to everyone that takes time to listen to our music and reads this interview. As a DIY underground Death Metal band it is a huge honor to get to be featured on a publication that we have all been huge fans of for a long time. We have a lot more planned for the future. Follow us on fakebook @EvulsingDeath & @Evulseache on Instagram. More cool stuff will trickle out soon.”