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photo by Chris Fulcher

Stomach Earth
Label – Black Market Activities
Release – TBA

Like most of the world, I have only heard two minutes and nineteen seconds of music from Stomach Earth, in the form of an excerpt of a rough version of the track “Prolong the Death Watch” (listen here). And yet the one-man band’s debut is easily one of my most highly anticipated releases of 2012, and not just because that aforementioned two-plus-minutes sounds killer.

No no no, my excitement about Stomach Earth is almost entirely due to my sincere belief that the project’s mastermind is, well, a master mind. Because that mind belongs to Mike “Gunface” McKenzie, who, as a founding member and (now sole) guitarist for The Red Chord, has brought us some of the most innovative and exciting extreme music of the past ten years.

What has made The Red Chord such a force to be reckoned with is their strict adherence to the rule that they will strictly adhere to no rules. Over the years, The Red Chord have been called death metal, grindcore, hardcore, metalcore, and, at least during a few drunken conversations in which I was a participant, the unwitting prognosticators of deathcore; and while all of those classifications are certainly fair, none of them are really accurate. The best description of The Red Chord’s music that I ever heard actually came from a friend, who noted that “When you first hear them, you’re like ‘What the fuck are they doing?,’ and then all of a sudden you’re like ‘Oh my god this is genius.'”

And based on one piece of one little song, I feel confident asserting that McKenzie has accomplished something similar with Stomach Earth. When “Death Watch” was released, I heard/read a lot of people referring to it as funeral doom, and, again, while that’s fair, it’s not really accurate. Sure, it’s slow, and it features ethereal keyboards, and McKenzie’s vocal style probably owes a debt to that of Thergothon’s Niko Skorpio (or whatever the fuck I’m supposed to call that dude these days) — but if the pace is actually not nearly as slow as the most well-known and well-regarded funeral doom, and if any of the traditionalist bands in that genre ever wrote an elephants marching riff this groovy, I ain’t never heard it. On Stomach Earth’s Facebook page, McKenzie lists both death metallers Immolation and minimalist composer Krzysztof Penderecki as influences, and my guess is, those influences will end up being as important to Stomach Earth’s sound as, say, Evoken.

Of course, we won’t know until the full album is released, and I could end up looking like a real idiot. But, hey, that’s part of the fun of these previews.

I asked McKenzie to gimme some dish on Stomach Earth, and here’s what he had to say:

“I try to write music that I want to listen to. I think that’s the goal of most musicians. For years, I’ve been recording Stomach Earth (formerly Nyarlathotep) tracks in an attempt to amuse myself with sonic walls of miserable noise. I’ve shared some of them online, but now it’s time to release a full record.”

I, for one, cannot wait.

Stomach Earth’s debut should be out sometime this year on Black Market Activities, the label owned and operated by McKenzie’s Red Chord band mate, Guy Kozowyk.


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