Fear Emptiness Decibel

Fear, Emptiness, Decibel: Killer Choosing Death Interview Quotes That Didn’t Make the Cut


choosing death revised and expandedBefore there were blogs there were these things called magazines, and the only metal magazine we still get excited about reading every month is Decibel. Here’s managing editor Andrew Bonazelli…

If you’ve spent any time on Facebook this week, you’re well-aware that Decibel has announced preorders for Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore (Revised and Expanded Edition). For the unfamiliar—and I can’t imagine there are many if you’re frequenting this, you know, metal-oriented site—before Albert Mudrian spearheaded Decibel in late 2004, he released Choosing Death on Feral House. Believe it or not, there was an enormous void at the time for authoritative chronicles of these subgenres; Lords of Chaos covered the more sensationalistic and lurid ascent of black metal in 2003, but death metal and grindcore—no less important to extreme music’s proud heritage—were not afforded such long-form introspection. The original Choosing Death explored their dovetailing rises, falls and reinventions to considerable acclaim; the Feral House version is out of print, but not before being translated into seven languages across the globe.

Fast-forward 10 years. So much has happened in extreme metal, it was only logical (and quasi-suicidal) for now-father-of-two Albert to update the story, like any good historian. Doing so involved adding 100 pages to Choosing Death, conducting 50 more interviews (for a staggering 200 overall), incorporating three additional chapters, and consulting the services of legendary DM album cover artist Dan Seagrave (Morbid Angel, Entombed) for a deluxe, revised hardcover edition, limited to 3,000 hand-numbered copies on the brand new Decibel Books imprint. We’re gonna have the first excerpt of new material in the May issue, but thought it’d be cool to tease ‘n’ please you, Dangerous Toys-style, with some killer artist quotes that didn’t make the cut.

At the Gates’ Tomas Lindberg on the role of nostalgia in death metal.

“To a certain degree, nostalgia is good for all art. But only to a certain degree. A band still has to portray the same sense of urgency, honesty and importance every time they hit the stage. I believe in a good mix of ‘looking forward’ and ‘looking back,’ so to say. Metal music has always portrayed a romantic sense of nostalgia, and ‘the first demo is their best work’ is something I’ve heard—and probably have said as well—since I got into this.”

Autopsy’s Chris Reifert on the decline of death metal’s popularity in 1995.

“I never sensed a lull in the scene, to be honest. The underground has had its ups and downs since day one, but I’ve always had my nose to the grindstone, so to speak, so maybe I was blinded to that sort of awareness if there was such a thing. The fateful U.S. tour in ’93 was what did us in, and that was an internal thing, as opposed to whatever was hip or not. It was time to hang it up, and as far as Autopsy was concerned, that was all that mattered band-wise. We realized it was over, but still stayed friends, and here we are going at it again, or still.”

Napalm Death’s Barney Greenway on Napalm Death never breaking up in the mid-90s, à la Carcass and At the Gates.

“I’m thankful that we’ve stayed around, to be honest. I’ve got a very naturalist way of looking at it. I’m glad that we’ve been around the whole time and are underappreciated in a sense, because I wouldn’t have ever wanted to hit such drastic peaks to where it brought so much attention down on the band that the idea of the band was kind of corrupted in some way. I don’t say bad things about Earache now, because it’s all done and dusted, enough’s been said about it. But I will say that I think if Earache hadn’t dropped the ball around the Utopia Banished time, I think Napalm would have gone on to become significantly bigger than it was.

“Having said that, I think the ups and downs in the tenure of the band have served us far better. I like the fact that we operate in our sphere and that we can answer to ourselves, and we live and die by our own actions. The times in the band that are the most uncomfortable for me is when the sharks start circling. And all of sudden—even though they haven’t showed any interest in Napalm for the last however many years—we get a bit of momentum, and these people come along, and it makes me really uncomfortable.

“So, I’m very happy that we’ve kinda rode along the mid-wave. And I think my experiences have been a bit more varied because of that. It’s reinforced things. And it’s reminded me how privileged I am to be in this position. I don’t take Napalm for granted. I never have and I never will. Because as well as the ethics of the band, and as well as being able to put those ideas across, the whole process of being about to travel the world and doing something that I love in a band that was my favorite band before I joined—there’s nothing finer. That in turn urges me on and urges us on to make things that live up to what Napalm Death should be, which is pushing the sound to its extremes, never giving 50 percent of something that we know could have been 50 percent better. So, that whole longevity of never exploding into something had definitely helped us. That’s one of the reasons I’m still sitting here in Napalm Death able to talk to you. I would have fucking hated it if the band would have imploded many years ago.”

Repulsion’s Scott Carlson on the fact that the band is more popular today than ever before.

“It’s insane. That’s mind-blowing. Obviously, it’s nowhere near the level of the Misfits, but in the underground death metal world, it sorta seems like that kind of thing where being into Repulsion seems to become like a rite of passage for anybody getting into this music. Before I met [Matt Harvey], I read a quote from him Terrorizer magazine where it was something like, ‘If I talk to someone and they’re not into Repulsion, I figure they don’t know shit about music.’ We actually met a girl the other day in Los Angeles with a Repulsion tattoo, and that blew my mind.”

Carcass’s Jeff Walker on the band’s surprisingly positive influence.

“I try to put a positive spin on everything. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but I really do. In the past, I was a lot more negative. Now I see the good in everything. Carcass, on the face of it, is a very negative thing. It’s aggressive music and the lyrics are very dark, but it’s actually had positive effects on people. Some foreign nationals, it’s really encouraged them to get a better grasp of English—and I don’t mean that to be patronizing. Some people, it’s turned them on to the idea of getting interested in medicine. We’ve met people who’ve become doctors, nurses, pathologists, vets, you know? Some people—and this is arguable whether this is a positive thing or not—it’s encouraged them to not eat meat anymore.

“So, there’s a lot of positive things that have come from what some parents might have thought—if they were looking at little Johnny with a Carcass CD—was possibly a few negative things. Compared to something like black metal, which is very nihilistic and misanthropic. On the surface, Carcass appears like that, but it’s actually had some very positive benefits to humanity. Even if we’re only talking about 10 or 20 people. That’s better than encouraging a thousand people to sit in their rooms and carve pentagrams into their chests.”

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