Thursday, June 1, 2023

Metalegion Interview & Review

The Metalegion Magazine, issue #12 is in hand! Our 3 page interview and killer review of the record are both in this issue. We are extremely proud to be in the issue with countless underground bands. We will be placing some scans of the interview and review on our website. Thank you to Metalegion Magazine for the great experience and feature! It’s a big deal to us and means so much.  

Metalegion #12 / 92 pages, A4 size, free CD, English written

Get yours at: www.metalegion.com


Review of Corporal Humiliation by Shelley at Metalegion Magazine  

Read our interview below! 



 







  


Q: As founding member, the band reflects your own musical influences straight from the heyday of death metal. It’s sick, raw, violent, and feels brutally honest. What’s impressive is that while Vacuous Depths come from Tampa, Florida you have a sound of your own, a sort of mix of different scenes... 

A: “We have a lot of regionally specific scenes we draw from, so that is why it sounds like it does. Most of our influences are from international and less sonically popular US regions. Our sound is that of a very rigid set of years from the founding of death metal from 1987 to 1993. So, although we are from Tampa, we catch a lot of shit for not sounding like a “Tampa death metal band” enough. The locals in our scene here are “legacy hounds”, meaning they only want to hear things by and for the founding Florida death metal scenes created. Those bands were great, and crucial, but not necessarily my favourite sound that I call death metal. That is a critique we get a lot at shows and through conversations with friends as well. “You guys don’t sound like you’re a Tampa band...” 

Q: Do you think it’s that factor that sets you guys apart from most of the stuff that is being created lately? That wide spectrum mixture of old influences? 

A: “In our area of Florida, I do think we have a unique sound, but as a listener of modern death and classic death I think there are some fucking killer acts that stand out on their own. Fetid, Disma, Lantern, Drawn & Quartered, Desecracy, Dead Congregation, Miasmal, Obliteration, and Undergang. We never know, but I do think these bands have left lasting classics on the table of modern death metal. That’s sincerely hard as fuck to do. Especially now with every asshole in the world starting “lockdown bands” while they were sitting at home doing nothing . They have home-recording equipment, coupled with boredom, and “I figured I’d start a band with all this free time” as the main driver (laughs). Go make a friend and get the fuck out of the way.” Nowadays we see bands trying to go over the top by adding all sort of different influences, highly polished productions, or just trying to incorporate as many technical drummer, and I were roommates and he mainly played in the band because we practised in our house. The bass player, Doug, assumed because I was having a kid that I would stop playing music and left the band. Obviously, there wasn’t a real reason to keep that line-up together as it was already limp with interest. With that time, I took that year to be a dad and struggle through that tough part of being a first time parent, and kept listening to more and more shit I loved. I never had an intention to stop, especially because my wife is incredibly supportive of my musical life. I knew that finding new members would be a long process, and it was, but I spent that time developing my taste, talking to musicians, and seeking out a cover artist to draw an amazing piece of art for the physical release I would eventually do with Goat Throne Records who found the demo.”


 Q: I know that the lyrics of the demo were based on personal situations, but what I found even more engaging when the tape was released was the cool artwork designed by Stephen Bower (Cryptic Void’s vocalist), the way both lyrics and art seem to be really linked together, how he fully depicted visually songs like ‘Gaunt Reflections’... 

“Art and any musical project I have ever done have always had a strong interest in the artistic and conceptual meanings. I joke with people that half the reason I still play music is to put out killer art, which isn’t entirely far off. I myself do art, logo, and graphic design, and collage art. So, I follow a shitload of amazing artists. When Stephen Bowers and I were initially talking I followed all of his prior work, so I knew he could handle what I was going to ask of him. I sent him all the lyrics to the songs, had him choose which song he would lean towards, and we went from there. Stephen is genuinely one of my favourite illustrators, so I knew his influences to pull out the most of him. That being HR Giger. I didn’t want a sci-fi realm though, more of surrealism. He took it from there. The only question he really asked during the process was how much full-frontal nudity I wanted on the cover. We laughed, then I told him “as much as possible”. We were super lucky to work with him and I wish him the best with his new family he recently started to build. He’s going to have some prodigy artist kid, just watch (laughs).” 

Q: Gladly, when you least expected, you bumped into bassist Arturo Palomo at a gig and one thing led to another…your old friend Dustin Rogers also joined as drummer and Vacuous Depths currently feels quite cohesive, almost as if you were playing together for ages. Does the debut album “Corporal Humiliation” reflect that sense of unity? 

A: “What is hysterical about finding these 2 guys is that Dustin was my first pick for drummers when I started to try and reform the band after that initial break. Our old high school bands used to play together and we have known one another since then, about 15 plus years. I sent his ass a message on Facebook and he never saw it. No reply, nothing. So I moved on. In the interim of that I met a drummer named Joey. I met up with Joey at a show to hang a little and get to know him better and Arturo and I were introduced. Arturo was shy and a super quiet dude, but talking to him for that little bit I could see he was very well read, and knew a shitload about music even though he was much younger than me. We started playing together shortly after that with Joey after another bass player had issues, got him in, and have become great friends. Truly a great dude and friend. The first time he came over my house to hang out he brought me popcorn and some other random presents. He is from Guatemala and I was unaware then, but it’s culturally something that’s common there when you visit people’s home. He brings presents anytime he comes over. It’s wild (laughs). We practiced and eventually entered the studio to record this full-length, and after hearing Joey’s performance on the recording and then a major incident involving some legal issues, I told Arturo we were kicking his ass out, scrapping the record, finding a new drummer, and rerecording the whole thing. I sent a Facebook message to Dustin the day after I kicked out Joey. He immediately responded this time, and the first thing he replied back was, “Did you ask me to be in this band 2 years ago? I’m just now seeing this prior message.” Needless to say, we are very happy to have Dustin in the band. He is a phenomenal drummer and a good dude. ” 


SEPARATE PERIODS


Q: “Corporal Humiliation” sort of blends both eras of the band, including the demo period by featuring a couple of songs written by you alone, and then the new material with new members. From your perspective do those new songs differ somehow from your early material? Do you see already, for instance, the mark of the bassist Arturo Palomo in the new songs? 

A: “As Arturo and Dustin know well, I write and compose almost all of the skeletal song before they hear it. At practice I bring the parts and song ideas, gather their input, work through the kinks or transfers, and go back to writing independently at my house and refine the skeleton till I feel confident in each song. Once that process takes hold, we build it as a team, but for the initial writing it’s all me, but I truly want and need their input to make it better. “Corporal Humiliation” as a whole is our favourite demo songs, and the newest material is written in that same fashion. I don’t know how different the new and old material is to one another, but we put this full-length together by playing the songs in a live-set format. Meaning, this is essentially what it’s like to watch us play live. No breaks, feedback carries us from song to song, and if there is a break it feels natural, but it doesn’t let you go for long to catch your breath. I sincerely wanted this material to blend with the old and it didn’t feel like a big departure from the demo, so we kept with it and refined it. Being able to work with Arturo and depend on him made me utilize his sound and instrument more aggressively in the new songs. That’s probably evident in the writing with the big bass parts now, but these are things I always wanted to do and couldn’t before. That goes for drum parts as well. Dustin’s abilities are unbelievable and I am trying to let that muscle work how it needs to to compose better and more unique songs. “Also of note, it sincerely bothers me when bands leave their demo sound and make a record that feels and sounds nothing like their demo. This was a big task to achieve a balance between the very raw demo and where we landed with “Corporal Humiliation”. I feel like it’s there.”

Q: What probably no one was expecting, 2 weeks after the original recording of the album, Joey was forced to leave the band like you told us. Can you reveal what happened? 

A: “Joey’s career in this band was rocky from the start. He was young, and when you’re young you fuck up. Well, while Joey was making mistakes he also managed to fuck with the existence of this band twice. He got involved with our bass player prior to Arturo, Olivia was her name. There was a relationship between them that became a problem and I asked that she leave the band. I felt that she was far older and knew better, and a large factor was that I was literally teaching her how to play bass in order for her to be in the band. That was extremely complicated in the moment, and a difficult conversation to have, but she later understood. “Once Arturo joined, I believe that same week, the 3 of us started playing shows and preparing to record. Joey, shortly after we recorded the full length in 2020, decided to hook up with a girl. A very uncomfortably young girl. She was 13. He was 18 or 19. This was found out by her parents and he was brought up on charges and put in jail for a couple days. Arturo and I weren’t surprised by this behavior at all. Joey is a narcissist, he is a fucking moron, and he took advantage of people. Although the charges were dropped in the case, I knew the truth about him sleeping with this girl. I couldn’t be around him after this, let alone have him play with us, and even worse put out a record with that kind of shit going on. Joey was and will always be a scumbag. I try my best to keep dirty laundry quiet as it’s no one’s business but his and ours, but some things need to be said.” 

Q: I know that you had a great time during the recording of the demo, I remember you praising how easy it was working with Patrick Brady. I guess back then it was more like a home-made recording. So how were things this time, how was working with Dan Byers at The Hum Depot studio? 

A: “I love recording! The house we recorded that demo at is where Chris, the original drummer, and I both lived as roommates. It was great and Pat knocked it out of the park. Pat and I go back a little ways and I knew him from my past bands as we shared a practice space together. Pat and his circle of friends are all talented people that make tons of music. The DIY method we used to record the demo was pretty professional and I remember Chris being surprised by “all the microphones” on the drums. He thought it was going to be a lot more simple (laughs). “Dan and I have also been very familiar with one another inside the studio. God Harvest, my band prior to Vacuous Depths, recorded our full-length with him and it was pretty heavy stuff as well. I knew that he could handle it. It sounds incredible. Dan also happens to be an amazing funny motherfucker, so being in studio with him is an experience.” 

Q: Being a trio I feel that Arturo’s bass guitar really thickens Vacuous Depths’ sonority on the album, but not only that, every instrument has the same space in the mix, and that’s something that really boosts dynamics as well as the intensity of the songs, while still retaining a mesmerizing raw clarity. The bass guitar is usually a bit neglected but “Corporal Humiliation” really does it justice. 

“I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head (laughs). In heavy music, it baffles me when the bass isn’t at least making up 40% of the mix. At some point in music, some asshole guitar player told a bassist to turn down so people could hear stupid fucking guitar. It just seems to have caught on and bands are simply missing the point entirely. Bass is punishing, you feel it, and in regards to our band it fucking decimates you. I hope all the guitar players read this and get pissed at me, but: “Turn your bass player up and fuck off” (laughs).” 

TERRIFYING REALITY


Q: The cover artwork of the debut album drawn by Karl Dahmer also reflects those sick and twisted requirements of death metal, however behind the gruesome illustration there is an actual story, unfortunately a real one, to be told that goes much in line with the album title. 

A: “One of the sickest stories I have ever heard about our state is the one depicted in the title track. The Dozier School for boys was opened in the early 1900s in a small rural town in Florida called Marianna. It was a reform school for kids aged from like 7-17 and its history is riddled with missing kids and stories of torture and murder. Some of these kids were genuinely bad kids, but a lot of them were in there for petty theft and alike. The art on the cover of our record has a white house in the foreground called “The White House”. This was the main facility where most of the brutality and systematic beatings and punishment was delivered. There was also a room called the “rape room” that was in another building. I’ve watched documentaries, read up on, and wanted to write about this place. A detail I picked up on while I was digging for more insight was found in an interview with a student as an adult. He told a story of being beaten up by the older kids, laying in a cot pissing himself with fear, and listening to an 8 year old next to him who was bleeding out after a heinous lashing while he laid next to him. Seriously menacing shit. He also mentioned the “one armed man with a hook for a hand” as one of the disciplinarians. Can you imagine being in this dilapidated school, being lined up naked and beat half to death (or to death) by a tall, hook-for-a-hand administrator? There is a book written about these events by these boys called “The Whitehouse Boys”. Read it.” 

Q: You are a father yourself, so do you feel more receptive and impressionable nowadays with those sort of real stories? I mean, its like one of the worst parents’ nightmares to have your children being tortured or worse... 

A: “I would say I have always been interested in amazing stories. Me being a father now doesn’t make it more personal, but the thought of these children being sent to this place brings me closer than not having kids. I also can’t imagine being a parent and sending my kid there. That is also a part of this I struggle with. I am protective of my family and if I found out this is what was happening, there would be blood. Recently, a creep walked by my kids daycare while we were leaving to walk home one day. He stopped mid-stride, turned towards us, saw my girl, and tried to start up some bullshit conversation to talk to my girl. I told him to fuck off or I’d throw him into traffic. He turned around and walked away.” The new album seems filled with horror stories, the song ‘Gold Crosses’ is about priests molesting children, ‘Exteriorization’ is also about a serial killer from Tampa, Florida. Do you find it easier to write lyrics around real events? “I do think it is an easier task to write about real horror, but these are stories about things I have a connection to as well. ‘Gold Crosses’ reminds me so much of my grandmother. She was brought up Catholic and I distinctly remember her disdain for the churches handling of the molestation scandals in the ‘90s. She left all affiliation with the church and that spoke volumes to me. This was predatory priests abusing kids. They used gold crosses as a gift to these victims to wear. This was so the other predator priests would know they were “fair game” to assault. It’s unreal. No words for it. “I do believe that lyrics should be personal, but also relatable to others. If this doesn’t make you sick reading this kind of shit, you probably are one of these fucking monsters. Serial killers, murderers, paedophiles shouldn’t be propped up unless they’re hanging from a fucking rope with a chair being kicked out from under them.” 

SYMBOLIC DOMINANCE 


Q: Another move towards the right direction for the band, was the decision to redesign your original logo. What’s peculiar in that decision is that one of the requirements of the new logo was to be inspired by a specific Japanese bondage and suspension art. Is there something you would like to share (laughs)? 

A:“(Laughs) Listen…don’t kink shame me. Who doesn’t like getting spit on, you know?! In all seriousness, Kinbaku is actually an amazing art form and I wanted that craft to be part of the logo for a couple reasons. First, as a band, our lyrics are concentrated around imprisonment, being overpowered, submitting to pain, so the symbolism is very literal. Second, it added a small graphic detail in the already very menacing looking text that texturally was unique in death metal. Dripping, webs, intestine lining, all that’s fine, but its not particularly “us”. It felt very right, and Daniel Hermosilla is oozing talent to make it great. He is a phenomenal artist. Superb with logos. I loved seeing his response when I sent the concept pictures to him (laughs). Needless to say, he also had a laugh.”

TROOPS OF MORBID DOOM


Q: I confess that I was not expecting to see a song like ‘Troops of Doom’ from Sepultura covered on your album. Still I understand, as an old metal fan myself that grew up in the ‘80s listening to that gem, the importance of an album like “Morbid Visions”. However for those that have witnessed some of your old live shows, it’s not unexpected at all… Live, playing covers seems like something you do often. Do you feel that while playing in a band and making your own music it’s also important to underline where you came from?

A:“Covers are something special in this band. We have so much influence from all over it’s hard to find the one that fits us well. The general rule of a cover is that people know it. It’s kind of the whole fucking point. If you play a town that doesn’t know your music, you play a cover to get people moving. Our mission isn’t to make people know how “cult” we are by playing some deep dive shit 5 people in Florida know, but also we listen to shit that isn’t surface level either. Right now we are playing
Convulse, ‘Godless Truth’. It was on their demo and their full-length, and Convulse is one of the largest of the Finnish death metal bands. Another huge goal is to play covers that kind of sound like songs we
would have written. It will blend into our set or our release seamlessly without standing out in a bad way. The list of covers is lengthy, but we have a method to the list that keeps it real. We just did a special charity show for Girls Rock Camp. Basically a charity that provides instruments and advocacy for girls playing music. It’s a really cool thing. So, we picked a cover by Acrostichon, ‘Mentally Deficient’, to play that night. It was fucking sick (laughs).”

Q: To end, the release of “Corporal Humiliation” is a joint collaboration between 3 different labels. For a small band like Vacuous Depths I feel it’s the right move, especially because it will reach more fans across the world and lead to more awareness since each label is from a different country. Was that a real concern for you? I mean trying to reach as many fans as possible this time.

“You took the idea right out of my head. This is exactly why we did this. I just want to say that Aaron, from Goat Throne Records, and I have become super close friends over the past years. We have always had ideas about how we wanted to do this, and a large focus of these ideas was expanding into Europe. With his help we asked around to a select set of labels we had a lot of respect for. Rodrigo at Blood Harvest Records immediately jumped at the opportunity. It should be said that Victor at Chaos Records in Mexico signed onto the release without hearing anything but our demo. That was an amazing feeling. These are all labels that put out shit I fucking love, look up to in influence, and I can’t believe we share the rosters with these guys. The main thing is that they like our release. That’s all I cared about. In the end, they believe in the shit we’re doing and I believe in the shit they release. I love the relationship we have built. That genuine enjoyment will push the release in the right direction as long as these guys do it.”




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