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Interview

Drawn and Quartered – “..Hm, yes, first we must unearth rotting corpses from ancient graveyards at midnight”

Drawn and Quartered’s 4th opus Hail Infernal Darkness painted my room black. This album made me hooked to this US death metal band. Since I’m not that familiar with the band it was about time to ask the band a couple of questions. Herb responded with intresting and indepth questions, not to forget to inject a little humor. (Jeffrey)

Drawn And Quartered is a rising name in death metal and deserves a little background to freshen the memory, so please give us a little info about the history of Drawn And Quartered?

Sure, well, to start with the newest and most important:  our fourth album, Hail Infernal Darkness, was released at the end of January, and is without doubt our most accomplished work to date!  Drawn And Quartered is from Seattle and consists of K.S. Kuciemba (guitars), Dario Derna (drums), Greg Reeves (bass), and myself, Herb Burke , vocals.

This album is the culmination of about fourteen years worth of efforts.  The band that is Drawn And Quartered began around summer 1994, but has its roots in K.S.’s original band/project Plague Bearer, which dates back to about ’92.  I was recruited for the Plague Bearer demo in summer ’93, although it wasn’t until about a year later that we finally established a more solid band core.  We went through a number of members, wrote and rehearsed over the next couple of years.  It wasn’t until early ’97, after the recording of the s/t Drawn And Quartered demo tape that a steady line-up was achieved, with K.S., Greg, original drummer Matt Cason, and me.  This is the line-up that produced our debut cd, To Kill Is Human, which was recorded in August 1998 and released about a year thereafter. In 2002, Matt left the band, and we recruited Dario (a veteran of Infester, Abazagorath, Evoken, among others) to fill the vacancy.  Dario has been an incredible asset to Drawn And Quartered, aside from his considerable talent and abilities, he contributes a lot of good ideas, is easy to work with and get along with, and is more on the same page musically as the rest of us.  Later that year, we recorded Extermination Revelry, issued by Moribund in 2003, and that was followed by Return of the Black Death the next year.  I am proud to say that each album destroyed its predecessor in the same way that Hail Infernal Darkness crushes everything that came before!

Is there a mainconcept behind the band, your records and lyrics,like a red line?
Not really.  Concepts and themes found in our works are basically just whatever ideas we came up with at the time.  It could be said that we observe some more general ‘concepts’, such as performing a classic style of Death Metal, which is based on writing good songs, riffs that can stick in your head after the song is done, and creating sinister feelings and atmospheres within the music; at the same time keeping it brutal and relentless.  Lyrical concepts we use tend to concentrate also on classic extreme topics; serial killers, genocide, anti-religious and blasphemous concepts, death, hate…I personally prefer to write lyrics which are based in reality or history rather than fictional ( e.g., religion) themes, although Hail Infernal Darkness certainly contains several songs which refer or allude to the idiotic fictions to which the weak still continue to cling.  Those lyrics usually take the theme of simply butchering the faithful, there’s no point in trying to use logic against people who have already abandoned reality.

I’m not familiar with former works of carnage except your previous work to Hail Infernal Darkness. What I can hear though is a big step forward, considering the handling of the instruments, the compositions and atmosphere. Who or what is responsible for that leap?
We are!  Haha!  Basically, we have worked our asses off over the years to improve ourselves as musicians and songwriters.  With years of experience and practice, we have been able to produce works which have eclipsed those before them.  Our second album, Extermination Revelry, was an exponential development from To Kill Is Human.  2004’s Return of the Black Death was an equally monumental leap beyond our previous works; and we were able to outdo that with Hail Infernal Darkness!  It was also our third album recorded with Jesse O’Donnell at Autopsy Room, so we were able to render that experience into the amazing sound heard on the new record.

One thing particular to Hail Infernal Darkness is the work that K.S. did this time on leads and second guitar parts.  He really went off the deep end on guitar overlays on some songs, and it just sounds unbelievable!  Previous albums were somewhat influenced by the fact that we only have one guitarist, which of course limits what you can re-create in a live setting.  The older material ended up tailored to some degree toward that one-guitar line-up.  On Hail Infernal Darkness, that was not a consideration — everything was done strictly to make it all sound as good as possible.  If that meant four different guitar tracks on a part, so be it.  I should probably mention that due in part to this, we have been keeping an eye open for a potential second guitarist, or at least someone who could do live session work.

Obvious influence must have been older Incantation and Immolation if my ears not deceive me. The rythymn section and your vocals remind me of that. What other than the previous comparison is a major well of inspiration?
You have good ears!  Having started out in the early 1990’s, many of the noteworthy Death Metal bands of that time helped lay the foundation of what we have been trying to do.  As you suggest, certainly the darker and dirtier acts had a major influence, including another band of some renown which should be evident to a careful listener (check out the first song on the new album.)  Certain elements common to Black Metal have been incorporated as well, although to me it’s more that Black Metal really took over the idea of atmosphere when Death Metal took a turn for the technical (read: boring) rather than taking an overt influence from BM bands.  We’ve always appreciated bands able to create feeling and atmosphere within their music.  K.S. will sometimes find inspiration in horror movie soundtracks and classical music.  A lot of our doomier parts evoke old Black Sabbath.

Let’s talk about atmosphere a bit, cause it’s what most bands don’t have or can’t make. Drawn And Quartered has been drenched in it, death metal hasn’t been so brilliantly dark for quite some time. Is it something that comes into being spontaneously or you first have to do a seance or something in that direction?
Hm, yes, first we must unearth rotting corpses from ancient graveyards at midnight , and violate them under a blood-red moon for the dark lord!  Seances are for pussies!!Ahem, I guess I’d say it kind of comes naturally, due to our musical preferences and influences.  It is something we are conscious of, in that the dark sinister atmosphere is one of the main things that really separates the best Death Metal from the rest (in my opinion anyway), and so it is something we really want to incorporate into our own works.  We have been gradually making use of more dissonant or unusual chord structures, experimenting more with tempos/rhythms when putting songs together, and trying ideas not used in typical Death Metal, to try to create darker and more horrifying sounds and songs, and to help set ourselves apart from the pack.  At the same time, we have no intent of letting experimentation water down our heaviness and intensity.

It seems to me that really since about 1993 or so, as that certain technical/brutal style began to really get popular, most new Death Metal bands have been content to follow that same path, writing (or, uh, ‘borrowing’) riffs more technical than catchy, replacing songwriting with intricacy, allowing brutality to obliterate any sense of dynamics…essentially adopting the superficial aspects while completely overlooking the basics…composing material which will stick in your head after the end of the song.

The solo’s are a nice addition, strangely reminding me of pulling teeth. Have they been done at the same time as the rest of the recording and what does it take to make them?
What does it take to produce the solos?  A huge pile of killer weed? I agree…the solos on Hail Infernal Darkness are sick!  A lot of them sound to me like screaming torment, so I can understand your comparison.  They were done along with the rest of the recording.  In almost all cases, we have recorded all the instruments and vocals during consecutive sessions, but we will usually mix the album over a longer period of time, to be able to listen to it with fresh ears, and to adjust and re-adjust the levels until we are happy with them. This time, K.S. had more down-time in the studio to work on solos and second guitar parts, so he really came up with some amazing ideas.  The leads usually end up being a combination of rehearsed ideas and some studio improvisation.  Metal should have guitar solos!

Who made the cover of Hail Infernal Darkness? It suits the music like a glove.
Our good friend Gabriel T. Byrne is the conjurer of all the Drawn And Quartered cover masterpieces to date.  When we received the cover art for Hail Infernal Darkenss, we were speechless.  Gabriel told me that its creation actually caused him “severe upheavals” physically and mentally!  He has been an associate since the early days, when he played in other local bands, actually jammed with K.S. briefly in the earliest Plague Bearer (pre-DAQ) days, but they weren’t really going in the same direction.  However, the artworks he was also creating (such as the first Blood Ritual album cover) certainly were suited to us, and so we recruited him to produce the cover art for our debut.  We were completely blown away, so we have continued to make use of his services for our successive releases.  His style has always seemed to suit our music exceptionally well; for example, the cover art for Extermination Revelry was in our possession long before the album was released, before some of the songs were even written.  Still, it ended up perfectly suiting the mood of the album.  I also think it’s a good thing to have a consistent/recognizable style of artwork, to help distinguish ours from every other release in the underground.

Gabriel has actually become quite the noted artist.  He’s studied in Europe (in fact, painted the Hail cover artwork in Austria and shipped it overseas to us) and recently had exhibitions of his own works in Philadelphia , where he has been living recently.  Check out more of his works at gabrieltbyrne.com.

Moribund’s roster contains black and death metal bands in all forms, some brilliant, some less. What do you think about Moribund the label?
Hmmm, what do you want me to say about our label???  Ha!  Like any label, you’re going to appreciate some releases much more than others, most of the Moribund releases I enjoy the most are those of other bands from around the Pacific Northwest , such as In Memorium or Thy Infernal.  Some of the grim Black Metal is a bit more hit and miss to me.  That first Sargeist is pretty decent.

As a record label for Drawn And Quartered, Moribund has proven to be a pretty good home for us.  There are drawbacks, like any similar situation, but in that regard we actually really know what to expect, as we’ve known Odin since before Moribund existed, back to when he supported gigs around the area in the late ’80s with some of the local Thrash Metal bands of the time.  He helped distribute the Plague Bearer and Drawn And Quartered demos, and actually the first cd was initially just distributed by Moribund (we financed the recording and first pressing ourselves) which ended up being a pretty beneficial arrangement for us, all things considered.  A few years down the line, we were ready to put together the second album, and once Odin heard some new songs, he readily agreed to put out our subsequent releases.  We elected to re-sign with Moribund for Hail Infernal Darkness…no one else was knocking down our doors with contracts, but moreover, there were some advantages to staying put.  With Moribund’s unflinchingly underground approach and ideology, we know we won’t have to worry about interference with our creativity, lyrical or artistic content being deemed objectionable, or anything like that.  As well, we can continue to be one of the more eminent acts on Moribund, certainly the best-known Death Metal band I would say, at the risk of sounding less than humble, as opposed to being a lower priority on a larger label’s roster.

The USA seems to have quite some solo black metal bands, Leviathan, Draugar, Xasthur, Crebain to name a few. What do you think about black metal in general and the bands I mentioned?
Interesting way to ask a basic question! Personally, I enjoy a lot of Black Metal.  But my taste in Black Metal, as in Death Metal, runs more along the lines of the old stuff and the classics:  old Venom, Sodom , Bathory, Destruction…the old Norwegian style, meaning, mostly, Mayhem…and totally raging and/or barbaric BM, like Marduk, or Bestial Warlust.  De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is the ultimate Black Metal work…nothing has touched it since, nor ever will.  Most of the old Norge bands started sucking as soon as they stopped ripping off Mayhem.  Some of the new so-called ‘orthodox’ bands have been able to evoke that same bloodcurdling, unholy vibe, even if the ‘religious’ concepts are laughable to me, but then certain others are just producing bloated, drawn out, boring and self-indulgent crap that ends up disappearing up its own ass, it actually cracks me up, since the modern Black Metal style really was developed in large part as an alternative to how Death Metal had done the same thing in the early 90’s!

There are/were many excellent Black Metal bands from the usa , acts like Profanatica, Von, Krieg, Kult ov Azazel, Nachtmystium…oh yeah, fucking Inquisition!!  Even something like Judas Iscariot, much as that was essentially a one-man-project, was still performed with real drums, and did perform live a couple of times.  There’s something that really bugs me about that whole “bedroom Black Metal” style…maybe it’s that a musical form which is supposed to be the rawest, most grim and evil expression of violence and negativity can’t be suitably expressed simply through a computer in an apartment, in my opinion.  How can it be loud?  How can you scream until your throat bleeds?  Or maybe it’s just that none of it is really very violent.  I also really dislike drum machines, with rare exceptions (Hate Forest, Mortician?.)  Tentacles of Whorror is a decent album, but I still don’t find myself listening to it very often///for the style I’d rather hear Krohm (which not so coincidentally is created by our drummer Dario.)  Maybe I could sum it up by saying Black (and Death) Metal should be the soundtrack to genocide, not suicide!

Not forget death metal of course, so what are some good bands to mention in your opinion which haven’t got a lot of attention lately?
Top of my list right now would actually be Dismember!!  Everyone knows them of course, but their last few albums have been so killer that it just sickens me that they aren’t the biggest band in Death Metal!  Hate Campaign was maybe the most overlooked album of all time.  I cannot stop listening to their new one, The God That Never Was .  The first three songs on that album alone bury every shitty ultra-brutal typewriter-drum gurgling goregrind album that’s been released in the past decade.  Dismember can’t turn around without writing a catchy song, plus they have some killer melodic solos.

I can’t call to mind many newer Death Metal acts that have impressed me…new albums by older bands seem more frequent in my listening.  Kaamos from Sweden is pretty killer.  I don’t listen to so much Death/Grind but just recently heard the new album from Cretin, which is totally sick…pure destruction in the old Repulsion vein featuring Col ex-Exhumed on drums!

If you consider to come to The Netherlands, around what time will it be? (and couldn’t you invite Sadistic Intent to tour with you?)
It will be right around 4:20!!!  I’ll just give Sadistic Intent a call and see if they’ll be free then.  Hahaha! That sure would be a fucking sick tour, actually!  Getting over to Europe to tour is definitely one of our biggest goals, but I honestly can’t say how soon that might be able to happen.  There has been a little talk here and there, but at this point it seems unlikely that we’ll get on the road until maybe next year.  It’s pretty tough for bands in our position…we don’t make money off this, so we still have to worry about taking time off from regular jobs and shit like that. I’ve visited Amsterdam…needless to say I’ve been anxious to return ever since!

I’ll cover myself in Infernal Darkness again, any last infamous words to our readers?
Hails to all Drawn And Quartered fans, and all supporters of quality Death (and Black) Metal!!  We have just finished up a video for “Hail Infernal Darkness”…it looks fucking killer!  I’m not sure yet when/where you will be able to see it — check our web site www.drawnandquarteredonline.com for updated information.  Otherwise, we have been completing more new material, and plan to record our fifth album before the end of the year!  Give praise to Death!!