This won’t shock many of you, but we’ve spun a lot of death metal over at Decibel World HQ throughout the past dozen years. This won’t shock many of you either, but I have personally spun a lot of death metal in the dozen years prior to starting Decibel in 2004. And for those of you it does shock, maybe click here for some clear explanation.
Anyway, this is a long way of saying I’m not being hyperbolic when suggesting that Starspawn, the debut LP from Denver’s Blood Incantation, might just be the death metal album of the year come December (or late November, or whenever the fuck our year-end issue actually streets).
You can hear for yourself via Decibel’s exclusive stream of Starspawn below. As a bonus, check out this recent interview with guitarist vocalist Paul Riedl (conducted by our own Dutch Pearce) before you zoom over and place a pre-order on the album here.
Could you give me some details on Starspawn? E.g. Who recorded/engineered the album; where it was recorded and when; who did the cover.
Starspawn was recorded & produced by Pete deBoer at World Famous Studios here in Denver this January 2016. Everything was done live with tubes, tape, etc - there are no triggers, click-tracks or quantized anything on the recording, no cut & paste and very few punch-ins. The only overdubs were vocals, minimal synth and solos. The only digital artifacts are from post-production reverb gates. Pete and BI handled all the mixing/mastering in house; the production is very powerful and unrelenting since we had total control from start to finish. The front cover and inside tray artwork was done by Don Dixon in the '70s - he actually does legit cosmic art for NASA as well as fantasy/sci-fi art. The lyric booklet photos are all from NASA/ESA. Live photos taken by humans, layout assembled by humans, all aesthetic elements informed by ulterior forces beyond our control.
Was there anything specific that occurred during the time between Astral Spells/Interdimensional Extinction and Starspawn that might explain the difference between the two albums? Any sort of revolution of thought, or did you learn some new technique on guitar?
That great specific, the grand differentiator of "here," "there," "then" and "now": Time. The revolution is NOW, each moment an insurgency of the will against the greater spectacle of civilization, if you choose to seize it. No, there is no magickal/instantaneous technique which would propel such evolutions, but rather the eternal refining of one's craft upon the altar of The Riff. Five years ago, Isaac and I could barely play "Mephitic Effluvia" - now it does not stand a chance against us. We didn't have a full lineup for the EP, and had only been jamming with Morris for 6 months before recording, so a lot of the writing tried to accommodate for lack of bass at practice. For a while we were trying to get a third guitarist, so some of the riffs on the recording had extra layers that have subsequently been stripped away now that we have a real band together, since at the time we did not know what was going to happen with the mystery third guitarist and had to call in Damon for the guest fretless bass anyway. When we went in to do Starspawn, we had been touring and playing with various bands for years and writing as a collective is naturally much stronger and more dynamic. "Hidden Species" is from late 2013, so you can see that we were already heading down the psycho tangents long before entering World Famous. Superficial differences between the two are rather endless: EP vs LP, monochromatic vs full color, 100% digital vs 100% analog, recorded under chaotic conditions vs recorded under organized conditions, the first songs we wrote vs the most recent songs we've written, recorded in two days by a novice and mixed over two painful years vs recorded in two days by a professional and mixed over two pleasant days, the list goes on and on. People need to stop looking for reference points, for little check-ins on their map of conditioned tastes - Meet the recordings as they ARE, not as you think/want/hope them to be. Open your mind as well as your ears - "Listen with the Mind's Eye." There is no context besides the NOW being continually revealed. Each recording has no purpose other than to document that exact moment of exactly where we were at that time, not just as a band, but as individuals in our own lives as well as in the greater context of your perceived "metal scenes".
Is there a theme behind Starspawn? If so, how is different from that of Interdimensional Extinction?
Interdimensional… deals mostly with the material trappings of the matrix, and the inevitable result of being trapped in the endless cycle of death and rebirth: INFINITE DEATH FOR ALL BEINGS. Since souls continually reincarnate into inevitably decaying forms (aka your feeble body), the only outcome of engaging samsara is suffering, deterioration, death, etc. One lyric from "Obfuscating…" more or less sums this up: "From Beyond I see the Nothing, the Field which chains all Being". This is the quantum observer beyond the material dimensions perceiving the endlessly binding prison that is matter, suffocating and eventually extinguishing (only to be reborn and again extinguished) all forms of sentience, consciousness, etc. Starspawn, on the other hand, deals mostly with the inner world of mind, the unification and eventual willed transcendence of the Macro and the Micro, realizing that there is "No Death as known, only Doorways" and that YOU are the stargate. The atoms in your body are the same as the atoms in the farthest galaxy. You are the portal to your own inner world of endless dimensions - astral projection, telepathy, remote viewing, walk-in souls, etc - all of this harkens back to the power of MIND that is simultaneously the ultimate prison and the ultimate freedom.
How collaborative was the writing of this new album? Has the writing situation changed at all over the course of Blood Incantation's existence?
For the most part it is the same as ever; I write the majority of the skeletons and have the general direction already in mind when we start putting it all together, but the finished product is always a result of group arrangement. Morris is a much better player than me and provides invaluable help in getting many ideas from the brain to the fretboard. Jeff is just so sick, that's why we're in so many bands together. Isaac has been on board since day one, and actually wrote the entirety of "Chaoplasm" as well as many riffs in "Subterranean Aeon", some for "Vitrification…" etc. Some days we improvise a song at practice (like "Hovering…"), others I show up with it pretty much finished ("Obfuscating…"), but in general we just bring riffs together naturally, having fun and enjoying each other's input.
What state are you in when you write riffs for Blood Incantation? Do you smoke? Do you drink? Do you meditate first?
I am constantly searching, trying to maintain openness. All riffs already exist - it's the human vehicle which channels them into audible form. Playing and improvising, you will always "find" riffs that speak to you, and then you have to catch it and learn them. Most times I can hear something sicker than I am actually able to physically play, so the trouble comes from trying to get my fingers to figure out what my mind can already hear. Didn't you hear that scientists at CERN just "discovered" a physical dimension beyond our own, from which all classical music emanates? You've probably heard that the sickest heavy metal is just modern classical composition meets distortion? Put the two together, watch the riffs come pouring. I don't drink much, the others more than me for sure, but the intern at World Famous definitely mentioned that we smoke more than the rappers that record there.