Some demos crush, but Besotten’s demo buries its listener, slowly and without remorse. In Filth It Will Be Found spans almost seventeen minutes across its three tracks, during which time, amidst one of the most noxious atmospheres heard on a death metal demo in years, the Portland, OR three-piece swing their corroded pendulum between bestial death and decaying death-doom. A true gem of raw potential, bespeaking both a powerful future while simultaneously appeasing those lachrymose shades of death-doom past and their rigid expectations.
Turns out Decibel had a little something to do with it, too. According to Besotten’s bassist/vocalist, Garth Purkett, a “huge credit” is owed “to Decibel” for Besotten becoming what you hear playing below. Garth and Besotten’s drummer Andy O. “attended Decibel Metal & Beer Fest 2018.” According to Garth, “experiencing Spectral Voice live for the first time was so brutal and devastating that it altered our musical brain chemistry—like a B.C. to A.D. moment—and inspired us to pick up our instruments again after a long hiatus to create our own vision within this disgusting genre.”
The band continues, “We’ve all been in various bands before, and Andy and Garth played together back in the day and already had a great working relationship. We’d been jamming together again for a few months before looking to the festering heap of Craigslist in search of a guitarist with the very specific grim style and taste we were looking for. Patrick moved to Portland right around the same time and was already of the same desolate death-doom mentality—we were able to speak the same language from day one. We all ended up mentally and physically in the same place at the right time and it all meshed together beautifully.”
Besotten is an interesting, but definitely perfect name for a band with their filthy, wet sound. Says Garth, “The first name I came up with was ‘Besotted,’ a word I learned from the dialogue of a BBC series. ‘Obsessed, infatuated, intellectually or morally blinded’ fit our psychological horror as we’re all obsessed with death, darkness, and the grotesque. Andy brilliantly fine-tuned it to Besotten (an archaic form of the word) because it rhymes with ‘rotten’ and it just felt… perfect.”
As it turns out, their rather unique logo was born at an interesting time. “I sketched the logo while on a companywide call with my job announcing upcoming COVID layoffs, minutes before being laid off myself,” Garth recalls. “I was half-paying attention to the call and mostly focused on the logo. It just sort of flowed out organically in an eerie way, like I already knew the path ahead even though things were all going to shit.”
The demo came together, according to Besotten, as such: “Andy and Garth had one solid song together from our early jams, and when Patrick joined, he came locked and loaded with a sick song of his own. From there we’d each write riffs at home, demo them out in practice, and plug our favorites into the existing songs to punch them up, or use them to start building new ones. Fusing our separate riffs together — most notably in the second track “Putrid Metamorphosis” — helped shape the sound in a manner that didn’t get too repetitive with either of our individual tendencies. We practice every week and played these songs for close to eight months to refine them.”
Throughout the interview Besotten have hinted at their psychological aspect. They say, “Besotten’s lyrics focus on psychological horror, existential dread, and the terrors within the human subconscious. In Filth It Will Be Found is the translation of a saying in medieval alchemy—‘In Sterquiliniis Invenitur’—which in psychological applications means ‘That which you most need to find will be in the place you least want to look.’ Every human carries in our psyches an entire hidden realm of suppressed memory, pain, misery, shame, and torment personalized specifically to us that we can maybe only access in dreams or therapy. While the band appreciates death in space and the sewer, we write about the horrors of the human mind.”
With a slow approach, wallowing in loose flesh, deliberating plodding, Besotten’s opener “Summoning Fog” spreads across reality, seeming to warp time itself. The Kadathian riffs and sudden rhythmic storms of Rippikoulu worship that compose this opener have ensured its place among killer demos forever. And “Summoning Fog” is only the opener.
“We practice in a pretty shitty sounding space and were very used to that sound, so we recorded it live in the space so the demo would take on that same grime,” the band tells us. “We planned our recording schedule around the next full moon and took 3 or 4 days to record. Andy had been learning how to record and mix in the preceding months, so having him at the helm of that was perfect so we had full control of our sound. We chose Julian Silva at On Air Mastering to master the demo as he’s a passionate death metal freak/friend embedded deeply in the Portland metal scene who’s extremely familiar with this specific style of metal.
“Putrid Metamorphosis” takes place among the same desolation as its opener. A certain paranoia and dread fills the air between the notes on this cruel and unusual cesspit in the middle of In Filth… According to the band, “Putrid Metamorphosis” is the first song they wrote together—and that is exciting.
In Filth…’s third and final track gathers overheard like an apocalyptic storm with a brooding into before launching into a down-tuned, tremolo-driven tempest of fucking destruction. In the eye of which you’ll find yourself about three minutes in. The demo ends frantically and on a chaotic note, however tight, as if the band themselves are concussed and reeling about.
Besotten says, “The demo came out better than we expected given how DIY and unprofessionally we did it. As far as the overall style, we were lucky to have a unified vision from the get-go for the morbid sound and cryptic atmospheres we wanted to create together. Once we had the bones of the songs, we knew these were the winners for the demo and kept tweaking and refining them all the way through the day of recording. Some of the final flourishes and edits that help make the songs special came minutes before nailing the final take.”
Talking about their artwork, the band says, “Before we nailed down the theme and lyrics we looked for band inspiration everywhere, and Andy pushed us down a rabbit hole of historical creepy artwork. We were drawn to macabre artwork from the late 19th and early 20th centuries — works from the minds of truly tortured souls inspired by the human-based horrors and grim realities surrounding them, as opposed to modern day horror movies — which led us to this stunning piece by R.V. Hoerschelmann. Once we saw it we were all instantly like “This is it.”
A disheveled man impaled on a scraggly tree, but seemingly not dead; suspended long enough to become one with the vines, but not turning skeletal; contemplating the filth surrounding him as he merges with it in solitude. The artwork conveys such a sense of loneliness, woe, grime, depression, time, and misery that felt perfect for the demo’s journey into the darkest corners of the human subconscious that none of us want to explore.”
We had to congratulate the band on taking the completely DIY route and releasing 100 tapes themselves, all of which are now gone. “We wanted this demo to be exactly that—a demo—and felt that the self-release route was a no-brainer,” says the band. “Plus we all love metal tapes and knew that this dismal and grimey style of music would translate super-well to cassette.”
Besotten says, “We’ve been humbled and overwhelmed by the rabid response to the demo, and people’s enthusiasm has exceeded all expectations we had upon releasing it. We’d been writing and refining the demo songs for so long, that for people to pick up on the demo immediately and resonate with the style, riffs, and overall ethos feels incredible. Selling one tape outside of our family/friends would have been enough, so to be mailing tapes from my living room in Portland to death metal freaks in Germany and New Zealand felt surreal and special.”
They go on to tell us, “Since finishing the demo we’ve been working on some nasty new songs and are in full writing mode. We’ve already had the honor of playing live with some incredible PNW bands and will be playing as many shows as possible this year, ideally getting up and down the west coast. Our goals for the year are to put out a split with another sick band and to release a full length. We’re still figuring out the details of how we’d like to release those since the demo was an all-DIY release.”
While the tape versions of their demo may be long gone, Besotten have recently put up a super-sick shirt design. According to the band, “Our first shirt release features historic artwork by Alfred Kubin that directly inspired the first song we wrote, ‘The Hour of Death’. Every moment of existence is another step closer to the grave, marching to the beat of a clock we have no control over. Kubin’s gloomy and gruesome depiction of time as the ultimate killer drew us in immediately and helped the song write itself. Hell’s pendulum is always keeping time, and everyone’s just another head waiting to drop.”Go support Besotten.