Tampa, Florida. The home of many great acts with a rich history within the kingdom that is called Death Metal. Use it in a metal-quiz or discuss about it with a nice beer in your hand, and you will be surprised how many bands will pass during a conversation. But having a great history doesn’t mean you have a bright future as well, doesn’t it? If it is up to Carnal Ruin, nobody has to worry about the Death Metal future in Tampa and its surroundings. Jared (bass) and Tony (vocals, guitars) will fill you all in…starting how Carnal Ruin has been formed.
Tony: I moved from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to the Tampa Florida area in 2018. Having played in various death and black metal projects in the Midwest area for years (Cryptual, Apocalyptic Session, Arioch) I wanted to continue to write and play music. Swedish inspired death metal was something I had not played before but have always been a huge fan of, and I wanted to give it a go. Carnal Ruin started between myself (guitar/vocals) and our drummer Zach (my now brother in law). Through mutual friends we eventually met and jammed with Jared (bass), and eventually Vince (guitar), and we’ve had a stable lineup ever since.
What inspired you to start a band in this style, which bands grabbed you by the throat and influenced you with the sound and songwriting within Carnal Ruin?
Tony: The obvious answer here is Dismember’s ‘Like an Everflowing Stream’. I wanted to start a band that captured the same ferocity and thrash-infused death metal that album offers. Our first demo sounds a lot like a mix between that album, and maybe Entombed’s ‘Clandestine’ as that’s what I was listening to the most at that time. However, as we continued to write, I began wanting to throw in some more influences from some of the old Finnish and other Swedish bands. Sentenced’s ‘Shadows of the Past’ was a huge influence as well. Suffer’s ‘Structures’ really intrigued me too, along with Megaslaughter’s ‘Calls from the Beyond.’ Those are some massively underrated gems!! I’m also an enormous fan of Vomitory, early Edge of Sanity, Sacramentum, and and Hail of Bullets. These are the kinds of bands we like and that have been influencing our writing lately.
And moving forward to your previous releases; EP “Immortal Domain” (digital & Cassette released and self-released), your demo “Gnosis of the Dead” (cassette released by Four Word Records) and your compilation “Gnosis of Immortal Domain” (cd & 12″ vinyl released by Floga Records). Can you tell us more about them?
Jared: Nowadays I would say we look back on Immortal Domain and Gnosis as crucial parts of our history and development as a band, but there is definitely a lot we would do differently if we could do it all over again. Most of those songs we haven’t really kept in our live set (when we were playing live) and part of the reason we wanted to release another EP (The Damned Lie Rotting) is largely due to the fact that it was a greater departure both quality and content wise from the previous releases. The Damned Lie Rotting is very much the direction we are headed in going into the full length.
We recorded both Gnosis and Immortal at Back Forty Recordings in Dade City, Florida. Ethan did a great job with those for sure. They were both pretty much done in a day. However, Hunter Young at Swamp Sound Recordings, who we recorded TDLR with, I think kept that raw death metal sound we wanted, but also added something new and improved to the sound that really took it to the next level. We will absolutely be headed back for our next release.
Both releases were initially self-released, but Floga Records reached out to us after a friend of theirs who liked our music put us in contact. They really hooked it up for that rerelease, and Suncord Audiolab in Greece did incredible work cleaning up some of the audio on those tracks. Looking back at it we are definitely glad we remained unsigned during the Immortal and Gnosis days. I think the caliber of musicianship on TDLR is much better and more refined and to us we really wanted that release to be what we approached a label with. Thankfully Redefining Darkness wanted it on their label.
You’ve released your releases both on cassette and vinyl. Are those types of formats important to you?
Jared: Absolutely. They are crucial to online sales especially. In the age of music streaming the physical format people prefer is tapes and vinyl’s. I think they make for a nice collector item and overall, just sell incredibly well. Tapes typically sell out very quickly at shows and online, and it’s the same for vinyl.
Tony: Id also like to point out that our compilation that Floga put out on CD has been doing well. I personally like CD’s and am glad they put the tracks on that format as well.
Your latest EP “The Damned Lie Rotting” (CD & Cassette released by Redefining Darkness Records)…go!
Tony: The writing process was relatively straightforward, as always. Me or Vince usually come to practice with a riff, Zach will put a beat under it, and it just evolves from there. For these songs we did take a lot more time to focus on melody, and utilizing both guitars to harmonize wherever possible! We tried harder to write actual songs that have riffs that make sense together.
We recorded TDLR at SwampSound in Orlando Florida with Hunter Young and as Jared said, he did a stellar job. We recorded all the songs with live drums and no click track as well – this is how I’ve always done it in past bands. I’ll play along to the drums through a scratchtrack in the headphones as we record the drum parts. After that it’s just a matter of layering everything else on top. I’m not a recording or gear master by any means, so this has always worked out. Keep it simple!
The reaction for the damned lie rotting has been great! Redefining Darkness has been great to work with. They put out a press release for the EP and a lot of reviewers globally seem to be enjoying it, which is all we could hope for. We thank everyone reading this, or our listeners, for your support.
The artwork was handled by Jimmy Palmer- He’s a good friend of mine from Milwaukee, and we’ve played quite a few shows together (he’s now in my old band CRYPTUAL). He has done the art for all of our releases and he did a killer job. Just perfect old school and gnarly looking shit.
The only trivia I have regarding the release is that we all got very drunk the night after recoding guitars and drums on miller lite. I was so hung over the next morning I almost decided to postpone vocal recording. But I somehow toughed it out and it turned out to be some of my strongest vocals to date!
What do you consider as the difference between your old material and your latest EP “The Damned Lie Rotting”?
Jared: Just over all more musical dynamics and creativity. We added a lot more melodic elements that were previously nonexistent in other releases, and we really made sure to challenge ourselves on the writing. For the previous two releases, I think we were focused on just getting as much content out as quickly as possible. We were a new band and there was so much death metal being released we just wanted to put something out. I think because of that we weren’t as satisfied with a lot of the songs and various parts on those releases the way we are with the new EP. For instance, for Immortal Domain and Gnosis typically by the time we would go to record those songs we were already bored of playing the songs. That has not been the case at all with the new release. Some of the songs on the new EP are a year old and we have never stopped enjoying playing them. I think The Damned Lie Rotting is the first material we’ve put out where we’ve felt really proud of every component to the release. It was the release that when we heard the final product, we felt like we had finally found our sound and we hope to improve that with the full length.
Shall we put the music aside, and talk about the lyrics and the inspiration to write them?
Tony: My writing process is pretty straightforward – basically I’m influenced lyrically by a lot of things- literature, horror movies, artwork, etc. However when i write, i try to come up with my own ideas or concepts about these subjects, rather than the song being explicitly about the subject itself. Its a fun creative exercise and makes the lyrics more unique – kind of like writing your own horror stories or concepts.
After the framework’s been laid out, ill try my best to rhythmically fit them with the riffs we’re playing in a way that makes sense (and in a way I can replicate while playing guitar live!) Its death metal, so to me the vocals and lyrics are more of a necessity than anything – I just like to have fun with it while keeping them somewhat intelligent.
How went the deal with Redefining Darkness Records?
Jared: We contacted them. We had expressed interest in them very early on as a band and Thomas had been following us for a while, but we knew based on some of the bands on his label that we really wanted to have a quality release ready to go before we messaged him. Thankfully Hunter did such incredible work with the new EP we felt it was time. Also, Hunter’s band Graveview was on Redefining at one point so there was a lot of familiarity there with the label. It just made sense for our style and interests to be on Redefining Darkness. Signing to them was one of the best decisions we have made as a band.
What are your expectations for Carnal Ruin in the future? Have you already written any new songs?
Tony: Oh yes, we’ve been writing non-stop. We already have new material in the works and fully intend to release a full length on Redefining Darkness in 2021. The material is definitely in the same vein as the new release, but even more refined. We definitely are keeping the melodic elements, harmonies, etc. that we added to the new release, but we also want to make sure the new material thrashes HARD. We want an album that speaks to our interests as a band, touches as many of our death metal influences as possible, and really paints a picture in the minds of our listeners with each song. It will without a doubt be our most challenging release/endeavor to date, but based on what is written so far, we think the final product will be ahead of anything we have put out thus far. This will be a whole new chapter of Carnal Ruin.
Are there any bands or albums of your recent playlist you would like to mention? A rediscovery, an overlooked gem or an unsigned demo band that deserves attention? Any other bands of your region of USA that are worth mentioning and to check out for our readers?
Jared: I would just like to shout out some other Florida bands that have supported the shit out of us and are all around killer bands/people. Your readers should check out Graveview, Rhythm of Fear, Corrupted Saint, Intoxicated and Flesh Driver. Those bands are all from Florida and they are full of some of the coolest and most supportive people in the scene, which is hard to find these days.
In terms of bands on our playlists there are way too many to count, but as always, we recommend keeping your death metal ears hydrated by listening to Vader, Vomitory, Fleshcrawl and Hail of Bullets. Those bands have influenced us more than I can even put into words.
Tony: Too many to count. But here are some current/active US bands that I enjoy that are well worth checking out: Shed the Skin, Church of Disgust, Scathed, Population Control, Obscene, Maul, Steel Bearing Hand, Wretched Inferno, Apocalyptic Session.
Are you guys involved in any other way in the music scene?
Jared: No not really. We just like going to shows when we can and hanging out talking metal with other people at the shows that sort of thing. That said, Tony did work for a radio station for years running a metal show, so he is basically a walking Metal – Archives because of that.
Also do you have favourite labels you always keep an eye on when they announce a new release? Or a favourite illustrator / cover artist? Any favourite printed / online zines? A distro you order a lot from?
Tony: Some of my favorite labels are of course Redefining Darkness, Testimony Records, and Transcending Obscurity Records. These labels consistently put out high quality bands and material, so I always try to keep up with their releases. As far as album artists, I really like Mark Riddick and Paulo Girardi’s work. I don’t really follow online zines too much, although I do enjoy sifting through my massive compendium of Metallion’s Slayer Mag which features a lot of old school black, death, and thrash bands.
And I can’t forget to mention Hells Headbangers. I order from them constantly and they are one of my favorite distros here in the US.
Before we wrap up this interview, is there something I’ve forgotten to ask you which you would like to mention? Thanks for your time!
Tony: Thanks to all the die-hard maniacs who have supported us. More shit from us coming soon! Stay true, and stay DEAD