There are numerous reasons to invest in education and future generations by increasing teacher wages. But none more obvious than this: As a music instructor, Sentient Horror's founding vocalist/guitarist Matt Moliti has been an ambassador for old school death metal. Originally named Sentience, Moliti adopted the name Sentient Horror when he expanded from a one-man project to a quartet including former students. On the band's first LP, Ungodly Forms, the New Jersey bruisers slyly reference Scandinavian death metal while conjuring images of throwback terror.
Due out on December 9th (from Redefining Darkness Records in North America, and Testimony Records in Europe), the enormous debut has already started turning heads: Swedish death guru Dan Swanö (Witherscape, ex-Edge of Sanity, ex-Bloodbath) said Ungodly Forms - which he mastered - was "one of the best SweDeath projects [he's] come across in 20 years." Then Trevor Strnad of Black Dahlia Murder double-downed on his good taste, vouching for the record in an Obituarist column. Mixed by Horrendous vocalist/guitarist Damian Herring, Ungodly Forms proudly embodies the spirit of old school death metal while evading predictability.
Below, stream Ungodly Forms and dodge Lovecraftian creatures while giving yourself a level-ten bangover. Afterwards, read thoughts from Sentient Horror vocalist/guitarist Matt Moliti about EC comics, old school death metal, and Phil Collins. Also, indulge in a video of stand-out track "Die Decay Devour" recorded at Sentient Horror's record release show (headlined by Horrendous).
As a music instructor, what stood out about your band members as players and people when you decided to recruit them?
Matt Moliti: I think it was a combination of factors. Both Ian [Jordan, bass] and Ryan [Cardoza, drums] wound up developing very similar tastes in music as myself. Whether or not I was a direct influence on that, I’m not sure, but it probably helped. Even though I taught them on guitar and not bass or drums, I also directed them in my show rehearsals at the School of Rock, so I knew they already had a really good chemistry working in a rehearsal space, learning songs, etc. They’re both very talented players. For example, even when Ryan was a teenager I could recognize it was him playing just listening through the floorboards at the school, he had his own unique sound even back then. Our personalities really clicked, too. So yeah, all around great dudes to play and work with.
Dan Swanö was quick to peg Sentient Horror as superior "SweDeath" while praising the record. Outside of Stockholm, what other musical or artistic influences are important to you?
Moliti: As far as death metal goes, I gotta go with bands like Death and Carcass, and a lot of the Dutch bands like Gorefest and Asphyx. I love old school traditional metal, like Sabbath, Priest, King Diamond, and bands like Rainbow, Alcatrazz, UFO, etc. I’m a huge '70s prog rock fan. Genesis and King Crimson are two of my all time favorites. I think all of that in some way influences how I write, some less obvious than others. For example, the chorus of "A Host of Worms" was actually inspired by an odd-time groove from an old Genesis tune. I don’t think anyone would catch or notice that, ever, but as long as the end result holds up to the integrity of the vibe you’re going for, there is no reason to not be open to a myriad of influences.
The lineup for your Saint Vitus record release show [Horrendous, Kosmodemonic, Coagula] was absolutely killer. Which of your songs do you like playing most live?
Moliti: I could easily name every song on the record, they are all a blast to play. But if I had to pick one, I think it’d be the album closer, "Celestial Carnage." It has everything in it. I think it really highlights everything Sentient Horror has to offer as a band.
What inspires you as a lyricist? Is there a lyrical theme that unites any of the tracks?
Moliti: My preferred aesthetic for death metal is that it should be the sonic equivalent of some classic '70s or '80s horror film, or an EC horror comic book. So lyrically, I try to reflect things you’d watch or read about in those kinds of films or comic books. Zombies, serial killers, Satan, etc. All that fun stuff. There’s an element of absurdity with that kind of horror, and I try to reflect that in how I write. I really don’t take it very seriously. If my lyrics make me laugh the way some ridiculous “so-bad-its-good” '80s horror film does, then I feel like I’m doing a good job.
What's in store for Sentient Horror in 2017 and beyond?
Moliti: We had a bit of a lull towards the end of this year as far as shows, so I’m really excited to get back out there and play regularly to support the new record. I also don’t want to have too much inactivity as far as new material, so I’m going to start writing again soon. In a perfect world, I’d do it like they did in the '70s and put a record out once a year. At the very least, I want to see if we can do a split 7” sometime in 2017 and shoot for a 2nd full length to come out in 2018. At some point, it’d be great to get on a European fest as well.
If you're a New Yorker and missed Sentient Horror's record release show, shame on you. Luckily, you can atone for that nearly unforgivable transgression by pre-ordering Ungodly Forms from Redefining Darkness Records over HERE.
If you're ordering from Europe, Testimony Records can hook you up over HERE.