Seattle’s latest duo of chest-bursting Amero-Finnish-style death metal may be composed of two musicians from arguably some of the richest and most interesting bands in the underground right now (e.g. Cavurn and Ebony Pendant), but that context will ultimately matter very little in preparing you for the demo ahead.
“Degraved was largely my idea,” begins NE, bassist of Cavurn, but guitarist, bassist and vocalist of Degraved, which began, according to NE himself, as “just an outlet for fast riffs and pretty much only fast riffs.” He continues: “A lot of people don’t know this yet but SC is a crushing drummer and came along for the blasts.”
NE says he started Degraved “[a]t the top of the pandemic,” when “[he] inherited a Gibson Flying V guitar from an old friend and decided it would be cool to learn to riff on.” He says, “I’ve played guitar for a few years but I’ve always been more of a bass player, so I thought I’d venture out with something new and try to write some riffs. I began to feel out a direction with the first song, which is to say something dark, evil, infernal, but not necessarily lightning-fast. I wanted the songs to have direction and many riffs which would take the listener on a non-linear path. Reference wise, I was listening to a lot of Incantation, Slugathor and Cianide. I’ve worked full time through quarantine so the whole demo took way too long to fully write and then record. I wrote a lot of songs during this process that were too slow and will likely become Cavurn songs, but those which were fast became Degraved songs.”
Sick. To reiterate: “[T]hose which were fast became Degraved songs.”
After complimenting the Degraved logo, how it dares to be different and looks so sharp as to jab even your glance, NE says: “Thanks, it was done by @extirpate_humanity_logos on Instagram … I sent him a few other logos as general inspiration; Immolation, Evoken, Ceremonium, I think Demigod too. We wanted something legible and old school looking; pointy with an outline. We’re certainly happy with how the logo looks.”
If you check the liner notes for the Exhumed Remnants you’ll find that this demo was “engineered, mixed and mastered by NE at deadpan audio.” NE says: “I’ve been an engineer for a few years doing live and studio stuff. Before the pandemic I put together a recording rig meant for mobile recording or on-location recording. I call this rig Deadpan Audio and I’ve actually been lucky enough to get more work recording bands with it than I thought I would given everything that’s going on.”
He continues to explain how the demo came together: “Recording Exhumed Remnants was a little spread out timeline wise, just in that there was no live band playing in a room together per se. We started with drums done live with guitars DI’d, then overdubbed the actual guitars heard on the demo along with bass and vocals.” He adds: “I don’t think we knew the songs as well as we do now and so now we play them faster.”
Regarding how he feels about how Exhumed Remants turned out, NE says: “We were going for something much murkier and early sounding than a lot of more professional-sounding demos you might be able to find. Something sounding like Infester or something. We’re in the process of putting together a full band incarnation of Degraved, as this project is meant to be a 4 piece as presented on the demo. We hope the next release will be a full band playing live together, although if the pandemic stays on this trajectory we may have to do some more overdub magic.”
Talking about the demo’s opener, its title track, NE says: “It was the first one I wrote that told me I had something for a straight death metal band. As for choosing for it to be the first song, I guess it’s just a demo so it doesn’t matter so much. Just kidding, I think a lot about the order of the songs from a listener perspective even as I’m working on them. That much is certainly true here.”
“Corpse Fermentation,” the following and by far the filthiest track, NE admits is “probably” his “favorite on the demo.” He says: “It’s the most realized in terms of interplay between the guitars and drums and sickening parts leading one into the next. My imagination started working on this while reading the lyrics to the song ‘Disfigured’ off of the Cannibal Corpse album Vile. He says he fills a tub with alcohol and sets it on fire while he’s sitting in it. I just wondered what it’d be like to have a tub full of a different type of alcohol, like how people will make bathtub liquor or wine or whatever? And I went further with that idea and was like, how horrible would it be to purposefully ferment a human body? So I basically just took that concept and ran with it lyrically.”
That’s weird some kombucha, eh? Tangy.
After an ominous, hauntingly soothing dark ambient interlude, Exhumed Remnants goes out with a bang with “Incinerated.” According to NE, “Incerated” has “that Finnish sound for sure,” but “the ending was actually more inspired by American bands like Autopsy, or Infester.” He continues: “The songs we are working on now are more in this direction—more riffs, faster paced, more blackened and infernal.”
Now, finally!, Exhumed Remnants comes out on March 5 on MC from Maine-based cold basement of hell Gurgling Gore. NE says: “In the short amount of time I’ve had working with Gurgling Gore, [the label owner] has been totally professional and a pleasure to be in correspondence with. He’s just one of those dudes who is putting in the work to make it happen for bands like us—and for that we are eternally grateful. Without people like him, there would be no underground. Not to mention he is well-versed in old school death metal and dedicated to seeking out the real shit. He’s let me know about some really exciting releases planned that I think the underground will enjoy immensely. If you are reading this I implore you to keep an ear on this label.”
NE adds that Exhumed Remnants sick demo artwork “is by @drollmeadow on Instagram, who,” NE says, he “found [Droll Meadow] because they did the cover for [NE’s] buddy’s project Towergeist.” NE describes Droll Meadow’s work: “Totally ripping and cool old school style ballpoint illustrations as far as I can tell. He’s doing stuff for another band of mine as we speak. Hit him up for art.”
NE says we can all look forward to a full lineup coming for Degraved, “although,” according to NE, “as of this interview [they’re] still down a member.” He says: “We have someone we’ve been teaching riffs to from a distance that we’re very excited about having in the band. He’s really the best in the biz. Too early to publish anything but suffice to say we’re big fans of his other bands and he builds amps. Maybe that gives it away to anyone who’s familiar with the Seattle music scene. With any luck we’ll be playing shows soon, definitely another demo this year and writing for a full length after that.”