Latest release: Misery (New Standard Elite)
Band site: www.facebook.com/disentomb
Brisbane death metal mob Disentomb’s new album Misery’s outlook is suitably pessimistic, not to mention being heavier than a busload of Sumo wrestlers. Ahead of their national tour alongside Thy Art is Murder and Psycroptic, vocalist Jordan James spoke to Loud about the new material, upcoming shows and the often segregated nature of heavy music.
Q: The new album seems even heavier than your previous material, which is no minor feat. Was that the primary aim this time around?
A: It was definitely the aim; we always wanted to write something heavier, but also something darker. We weren’t happy with the way the first album came out. We were writing that when we were 17 and 18, so it kind of, it was an album but it kind of feels like a demo to us now (laughs). The aim was to write something darker, and just also get better production, so we wanted to record it in a proper studio. The first album was done in just a jam room, so we invested the time in searching around for the right place, and we’re pretty happy with how it turned out.
Q: Did you approach your vocals any differently to try and complement the even heavier style?
A: Not particularly. I just kind of do what I do, and that’s just lows. I used to do high vocals in previous bands and that sort of thing, but it’s kind of been agreed upon in Disentomb that I’ll keep my vocals low. That’s how everyone likes it. In terms of vocal patterns though, the first album I wrote all the vocal patterns. But this one, I collaborated with Jake (Wilkes), the guitarist. So he and I wrote most of the vocal patterns together, just because he was writing the majority of the songs by himself, so I suppose he knew them better than anyone. He had an idea of the way the vocal patterns should be, and I just threw in certain ideas here and there.
Q: On the vocal front, you also have a special guest on the new record.
A: Yeah, we e-mailed Trevor (Strnad from The Black Dahlia Murder), ‘cause we knew he was a bit of a fan. We wanted to see how Disentomb sounded with some high vocals on there, and he’s a pretty prominent dude known for his high vocals. So we hit him up and he was really keen. He did them in like, we sent the track off to him and he had them back to us in a few days. We’re pretty stoked to have someone from The Black Dahlia Murder on the album. It’s given us in the past few weeks heaps of exposure to people who probably wouldn’t have heard us.
Q: Popular blogs like MetalSucks have been giving you coverage as a result.
A: Yeah, definitely. Things like MetalSucks and Metal Injection featuring our song and that, it’s exposure we, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have had unless we had Trevor on the album.
Q: He has such an incredible contrast between the growls and those animalistic shrieks too, and adds another dimension to your sound.
A: Yeah, definitely. When we sent the track to him we said, ‘we don’t usually do high vocals in Disentomb’. So we had an idea that he was just going to do low vocals. We hinted to him along the lines of we’d like him to do low vocals. And then he sent it back and he did just all the signature highs. To be honest I’m so glad he did, because the way, it just added a whole new element to Disentomb, hearing the high vocals over it, and especially his. I’m glad he made it his own, rather than us telling him to do lows. We’re really happy with the way it turned out.
Q: Do you envision yourselves enlisting other guests on future releases now?
A: Yeah, definitely. I’ve got a few ideas for the next one, but that album probably won’t be out for another two or three years. But I’ve got an idea, there’s another high-profile death metal band that have endorsed Misery. They’ve said they loved it, so I’m pretty keen to get that vocalist on there. So hopefully he’s keen.
Q: Extreme bands can devise some really elaborate, even pretentious album titles, but conversely, you have a simple one like Thy Art is Murder’s Hate, which perfectly encapsulates it sonically and lyrically. I think Disentomb utilising Misery is in a similar vein – defining the record with one powerful word.
A: That’s exactly it. We were talking about it, because we had a whole bunch of different song titles that we thought could make a decent album title, all these long ones. Then the first track is called ‘The Genesis of Misery’, and that was the working title for a while. Then we just thought what if we just call it Misery? The album just sounds, like we tried to make it sound as heavy and as bleak as possible, and Misery sums it up. I’m not sure what we’ll do for the next album in terms of an album title, but I feel just that one word sums everything up.
Q: I spoke to CJ from Thy Art is Murder recently and joked that they have nowhere to go now after calling an album Hate.
A: I have another sort of one in mind, but unfortunately Job for a Cowboy has already done an album called Gloom. I wanted to name the next album that, so it’s definitely not going to be called that. They beat me to it.
Q: (Laughs) Fair enough. Speaking of Thy Art is Murder, you’re about to hit the road with them on an enormous bill which also features Psycroptic, Revocation and Fit for an Autopsy.
A: Yeah, we’re pretty stoked to be on that. We’re being exposed to a whole new crowd that probably hasn’t heard us, so it’s going to be an entertaining tour. I think a lot of the shows have already sold out, or are pretty close to selling out. So we just can’t wait to tour again.
Q: It is a great bill because you have various pockets of extreme music represented there. It’s an opportunity for plenty of audience cross-pollination for all concerned.
A: It’s a pretty smart idea, to get, you’ve got deathcore, death metal, you’ve got technical death metal and then you’ve got thrash with Revocation. There’s something for everyone. If you’re a fan of extreme metal, you’re almost certainly going to one of those shows because it’s really got something for every single sub-genre, or a lot of the main sub-genres. I’m so stoked to be a part of that; it’s going to be awesome.
Q: Do you feel not enough Australian acts actively attempt to reach out to new audiences like that, and venture outside of their usual “scene”?
A: No, I don’t think too many death metal bands do. I’ve noticed that deathcore or more modern death metal bands; they’re more the ones interested in touring with traditional death metal bands. But I don’t think it’s really returned. I think a lot of death metal bands shy away from wanting to tour with I suppose, deathcore bands. But it’s part of it; you see Cannibal Corpse tour with Suicide Silence, so I don’t see why it can’t happen on a local level. I think there’s too much barriers that just need to be broken down. Because when it comes down to it, it’s all heavy music.
Q: Why do you feel those barriers exist?
A: I think it’s attitudes that stem from 2006, when deathcore first blew up, and everyone had a problem with it. And it’s just kind of came on from there. I mean, some of the deathcore bands that get around are fucking heavy, like you’ve got Oceano and even Thy Art is Murder, I find them really heavy. I feel it’s pretty outdated these days to still have a problem with it, or to be vocal about that sort of thing. I find that outdated. I got over that when I was 18, and I think a lot of other people should (laughs).
Q: Indeed. What else do you have planned touring-wise after the Thy Art is Murder shows?
A: We have been in discussions; we’re touring with Psycroptic next year. We’re doing part of the tour, there’s like three parts to the tour across Australia, heaps of regional shows. We’re doing one-third of the tour… And then we’re heading to the US. We’ve just been in talks, we’ve been confirmed for Las Vegas Death Fest in June next year, and we’re in talks about building a tour around it, maybe a month or tour would be sick. So that’s the plan, and plans for a European tour as well with two other brutal death metal bands.
Q: Is the band just pursuing a passion for you and the other members? It’s a problematic prospect to attempt to make a living playing death metal.
A: We would love to do it full-time, and I would give up my job tomorrow if it means I could tour full-time. I know everyone else feels the same, but we have no… I suppose that is the end goal, but we’re not expecting it. You see huge bands like Cannibal Corpse, and they’re just sort of living off it. So it’s a pretty long shot. Henri’s (Sison, drums) a radiographer, so he works in a hospital. Jim (Parker, bass) works in the mines over in Perth, Jake does a labouring job and I’m an editor of a newspaper. So we all have pretty secure jobs, and we just use our holidays to tour. Each band’s different; everyone has different ideas of how they want to do their art. Some people want to use their holidays, some people want to do it full-time and just live out of a van. I suppose it just comes down to what you prefer.
Q: Any famous last words?
A: If you’re reading this interview, come out to one of our shows in December with Thy Art is Murder. It’s gonna be awesome.
You can catch Disentomb on tour at the following shows with Thy Art is Murder-
12/12: Fowlers Live, Adelaide SA
13/12: HiFi Bar, Melbourne VIC*
14/12: Ringwood Community Centre, Melbourne VIC
17/12: YMCA HQ, Perth WA
18/12: Capitol, Perth WA*
19/12: Manning Bar, Sydney NSW*
20/12: Crowbar, Brisbane QLD*
21/12: Crowbar, Brisbane QLD