INTERVIEW + FULL ALBUM STREAM: Embalmer – Emanations from the Crypt
A slumbering beast has awoken and it is coming to get you. Formed in the tail end of the 80’s, Embalmer gear up for the release of their second full length ‘Emanations from the Crypt’. The mis-steps from the past have been rectified and the newest release on Hells Headbangers Records is scathing death metal assault that fans of the band have been dying to hear. The vicious riffs and the album achieves things that even the most “brutal” bands of today don’t. Embalmer manage to capture the glory of old school death metal and their newest material would make even the hardened fans squirm by the sheer brutality in the song writing.
Transcending Obscurity is proud to present, a full album stream of ‘Emanations from the Crypt’. We also managed to have a word with the band for what turned out to be a very insightful interview. Read on as the band talks about the various emotions that have gone into the making of this album
Transcending Obscurity (Shrivatsan R): Hey guys. It’s been a long time coming, but the time is finally here. How was the road leading to ‘Emanations from the Crypt’?
Embalmer (Paul Gorefiend): Hails! Well, as everyone can tell, it has been a LONG road filled with lots of great moments, along with a few hurdles in the way to overcome of course, but alas here we are! Yes, this album is long overdue, but we knew how important it was for the band and wanted to make sure it was right. The recording process was a little unorthodox, since the tracks were laid down over a couple of years instead of a couple months like most albums. This was mainly due to the lineup change that saw me join on vocals in 2012 along with Joe Wunderle on bass. We spent a lot of time on the road introducing this lineup to the fans directly, and in-between we would book studio time and make some more progress on the record. Now we all have found our “groove” and new material is already flowing at a much more rapid pace. It definitely won’t be another decade for another full-length, and we have 2 split 7” planned for this year (w/ HEMDALE + SURGIKILL) that feature new/unreleased material. So yes… this album was a bit constipated to get out, but the diarrhoea is flowing like a faucet now!
TO: The band has had a long, tumultuous history as far as the line-up goes. Have things stabilized now? Does putting out new releases help to keep the band members focused and active?
Embalmer: As I always say… any band that has existed for over 25 years is inevitably going to have lineup changes (well, most anyway). We have had more than some, and less than others. Things have certainly stabilized now, with the consistent core being original drummer Roy Stewart, myself, and Joe Wunderle (bass). We have had some revolving changes at both guitar positions, but it has mostly just been a change back and forth between people who have already played in EMBALMER at different times. We have consistency at those positions now, as Steve Pedley is still with us, and helped write the new record. We have recently added Don Wolff (now also with MANTICORE) back to the band at the other guitar spot, and he played from 2006-2009 previously. We have 2 shredders in the band now who both carry some sick leads/dive-bombs, this guitar team sounds absolutely LETHAL! The bottom line is, no matter who has come and gone in the band, the underground spirit, structure of the songwriting, and vision of how the music should sound all remains intact. EMBALMER is one of those bands who already have an established sound, and we write within that while trying to push the envelope of sickness… The Cleveland scene is incestuous, and most of musicians jam in multiple bands, or go back and forth, just how it’s always been.
TO: How did the deal with Hells Headbangers happen? Did your experience with the label re-releasing ‘There was Blood Everywhere’ help you make the decision?
Embalmer: The deal with HELLS HEADBANGERS happened very naturally to put it simply! We have known some of the Horval brothers since before they started the label. Plus Chuck Parsons from HHR is a very good friend of mine, and makes correspondence between the band and label effortless. Aside from their headquarters being located 40 min. from us, HHR offers an attention to detail, and a hands-on approach that wouldn’t be possible elsewhere. The ‘Blood Everywhere’ re-release certainly did help us make the decision, and the success of that re-issue just solidified what we already knew about them. We have watched them grow over 15 years into one of the premier labels in the underground. They certainly have one of the busiest mail orders in North America, and offered tons of creative and collaborative packaging and promotional opportunities that simply couldn’t be matched by anyone else. They are the perfect label for us, and we look forward to working with them in the future.
TO: What happened with ’13 Faces of Death’? I understand the band feels discontent with that release. Where did things go wrong?
Embalmer: This was a very strange and transitional period for the band. I was helping them a lot behind the scenes during this time period before I joined, and I basically watched the songs get written at practice. That album quite simply was the brainchild of ex-vocalist Rick. The whole concept and content of the record left a lot to be desired, and the recording itself was rushed, just so he could have the CD released on Friday, Oct. 13, 2006. So many bad decisions…. Prior to the release, the band played Maryland Deathfest IV earlier that year, and instead of showcasing the live performance to all the major labels in attendance, and keeping the band’s “stock” up, a verbal handshake agreement with Pathos Productions was made just prior to getting on stage, which was then announced to the crowd. After being on Relapse Records previously, not one attempt was made to shop new material to all labels, make the best, well-thought out decision for the band, or keep the past legacy at an elevated level of perception. That vocalist also had a pretty volatile personality, and there were several episodes and disagreements that really put the band in a bad light PR-wise. The reviews for the ‘13 Faces of Death’ record speak for themselves… fans simply did not get what they expected from the anticipated EMBALMER “comeback” record (and debut full length). The only song off the album we still play live is They Can Smell Our Blood, and we also re-recorded it on our new album ‘Emanations from the Crypt’. Listen to both versions and you be the judge!
TO: Embalmer has gone on extensive tours across the US over the past couple of years. Do you have any plans to tour areas outside the USA in support of the upcoming release?
Embalmer: Yes, we have some plans in the works to FINALLY get the band overseas. We are looking at different agencies, and gaining advice from friends in other bands on the best way to approach it. We have gotten offers for several fests overseas, but we want to do a small tour as well, so it takes some time to set that up. Everyone in the band has a passport now, and we have no limitations. It is already April, and these things are usually planned way in advance, so a Euro run in 2017 will be our most likely target. We also have been in contact with promoters in Indonesia, and would love to play down there for those rabid fans! Realistically, the rest of 2016 will see us doing some short mini-tours in the US again (west coast, Texas/Mexico, Southeast). In addition, we have some really great US fest appearances booked so far, including “DEATH TO FALSE METAL IV” in Chicago (The Livewire) weekend of May 21, FULL TERROR ASSAULT US Open Air at the end of August (Cave-In-Rock, IL), HELLS HEADBASH 3 in Cleveland Labor Day Weekend (The Agora Theatre) and others we are still confirming. Outside of that, we will spend the remainder of the year concentrating on writing NEW material towards the follow-up to ‘Emanations from the Crypt’.
TO: The new album, ‘Emanations from the Crypt’ seems to be a record that is brimming with anger and hatred, with scathing riffs and pulverizing grooves. This is a huge step up from last time. What was the band’s thought process while recording this album?
Embalmer: We had a very focused, “take no prisoners” approach to the writing process for this record. We learned from the mistakes made on the ‘13 Faces of Death’ release and wanted to get the band more focused on the classic material from the ‘90s. With that being said, we also did not want to make a stale “retro” type album, so we took all the sickest elements of the past and beefed them up a notch. To me, it’s like the old material on steroids! As I said… we had A LOT to prove with this record, to win back the respect of old and new fans alike, and I think it definitely shows.
TO: With so many changes in the line-up, how hard is it for the new members to step into the shoes of those that left? Does the fact that the current members are fans of the old demos help?
Embalmer: Every lineup change is a different situation, and anyone who joins this band needs to buy into the sound and concept that EMBALMER is all about. It is impossible to write new material without first knowing the old classics and history of the band. We have been very lucky as mentioned, that the majority of our lineup changes have been people who have played with the band at one time or another previously, or were life-long fans. Speaking for myself, I knew I had to “step up to the plate” (as John McEntee/INCANTATION used to say), and give fans of the ‘Blood Everywhere’ and ‘Into the Oven’ eras the level of sickness they expected from the vocal dept. Guitar-wise, we had to fill the shoes of founding member Mark Davis, who wrote most of the band’s most memorable songs. Certain younger musicians don’t understand that EMBALMER has an established sound, and they don’t get to come into the band and change it up, adding all this frilly, modern, technical stuff, but that is not an issue for us these days… We accept NO FUCKING COMPROMISE!!!
TO: Full length releases aside, are there any plans for collaborative splits with other bands from the Ohio scene?
Embalmer: Why yes there are! We will be doing a split 7” EP with longtime friends, and fellow Cleveland gore/grind maniacs HEMDALE shortly, to be released through GOATGRIND RECORDS in Switzerland! Our half was recorded the same time as ‘Emanations…’ and the HEMDALE side is being mastered as we speak. We would also love to do some more splits with sick old Ohio bands (and elsewhere) like SODOMIZED, DECREPIT, TERROR (OH), etc. but that is just me thinking out loud… Someone has to pick up the “split” torch to fill the void for our friends in NUNSLAUGHTER these days right?? (RIP Jim Konya)! Another split we have confirmed is with SURGIKILL, a great newer band featuring Stevo (IMPETIGO), Ash and Zdenka from FAITH XTRACTOR, and Billy and Vanessa Nocera from RAZORBACK RECORDS. They just released an excellent new full-length ‘Sanguinary Revelations’ you should all pick up! HELLS HEADBANGERS will be handling this one, so be on the lookout later this year!
TO (Chris Dahlberg): On the topic of the Ohio scene, it seems to be just as strong now as in the 90s. You’ve got older bands like Hemdale and Terror back in action alongside plenty of strong newcomers, and Hells Headbash now drawing in people from all over. What are your thoughts on the current state of metal in Ohio?
Embalmer: The Cleveland scene is pretty strong these days, but just like every other major market in the US / North America, attendance is down compared to the glory days of the ‘90s. I personally LOVE seeing older classic bands from this scene active again, and there is plenty of fresh talent out there re-seeding the crops! HELLS HEADBASH has established itself as a major US Fest to fill part of the void left by the departure of OHIO DEATHFEST in 2002. I can’t express how great it is to have a credible, international fest back in the city! This is a very close scene, and there are some very dedicated people helping to move it forward and keep it going. We are lucky that there are some really great clubs like THE AGORA, THE FOUNDRY, NOW THAT’S CLASS, THE BEACHLAND, GROG SHOP and others who keep their doors open for extreme music. We also have some great metal DJ’s in town like Bill Peters (WJCU Metal on Metal), Mike Hughes (WCSB The Day Man Lost), Eric Chmielewski (WCSB Into the Void) and others who push this music on the streaming and local air waves. We also have a free local entertainment paper “Scene Magazine” that comes out every week and keeps everyone informed. It truly is a collective effort, and while I DO miss the glory days of my youth, things are definitely stronger than before and improving all the time.
TO (Chris Dahlberg): ‘Emanations from the Crypt’ has some killer album art that was done by Chris Moyen at Thorncross Designs, and there will be interior artwork from Mark Riddick. How did you guys collaborate with these two artists, did you have an idea in mind or did you send them the music and give them free reign?
Embalmer: How we came to work with both artists were two completely different situations. First of all, Christophe and Mark are two of our absolute favorite artists, and have been for 20+ years! We wanted to get away from the “computerized” type graphics/layout of the last album, and get back to a more old school vibe. It just fits EMBALMER much better… To me, the aesthetics of a record are just as important as the music, and both components help set the “mood” and “feel”. Growing up, I used to always read the booklets of albums cover to cover while listening to them, and part of the joy was looking at every detail of the art, reading the thanks lists, lyrics, etc. We wanted to re-create that experience for the fans with ‘Emanations…’ and I feel like we succeeded (The CD booklet is 16 pages). When I joined in 2012 and the band was discussing the cover artwork, it was an instant choice and no-brainer (not to mention an honor) to commission Chris/Thorncross for the work. I sent him a general concept, which was approved in a couple short sketches, then let him work his dark magic from there! When it comes to the Mark Riddick portion of the art, it was quite a different situation. That piece was actually done way back in 2006, and was intended for the Limbs in the Grinder T-Shirt back then. Well, the band never used it (yet another mistake of the ‘13 Faces of Death’ era), and we couldn’t stand to let it stay dormant any longer! I mean… who keeps unused Mark Riddick art around for a decade???
TO (Chris Dahlberg): Hells Headbangers has plans to re-release ‘Into the Oven’ and ‘Taxidermist’ with unreleased recordings and additional material. Are there any details you can give us on these upcoming releases? Since a lot of your members weren’t in the band at the time these came out but were fans, what was it like to go through this type of archival material?
Embalmer: This is going to be an EXTENSIVE and complete look at the early 1990-1992 era of the band. I always kept good relations with all the ex-members of EMBALMER (unlike the previous vocalist), so all the old materials became available to us. I owe endless credit to Duane Morris for keeping such a good archival record of the band over the years. He saved a wealth of old pictures, flyers, reviews, advertisements, stickers, demo covers, posters, clippings, etc. and combined with my own personal collection of materials as a fan over the years, will make for an absolute AMAZING package with tons of content. We are still finalizing the layout/materials for the release, and it will come out on either double or triple vinyl the way it is looking. Original recordings, alternate mixes, and some live material will be included.
TO: Is it true that the album was originally titled ‘The Apocalyptic Bloodshower’? What made you guys decide to change the name?
Embalmer: Yes, the album was originally going to be called that, but we scrapped that title when I joined the band. We didn’t want to keep any ideas or concepts from the previous vocalist, and we wanted to make a fresh product and leave our own mark. Some of the early lyrics and song titles he had written were laughable at best, and it really is a good thing none of that junk ended up getting released, to be blunt about it. We feel that the new song titles, lyrics and concepts are a much better representation of EMBALMER than what was previously planned, and a total step back in the right direction.
TO (Chris Dahlberg): Your current lineup has been together for a few years now, what are some of the most memorable live shows that you have played and what made them stand out?
Embalmer: Oh man, there are SO many stories to tell, it is unreal…. In the time I have been in the band we have played over 100 shows together and shared many great experiences together on the road. Some of the most memorable shows that stick out off the top of my head were:
a) ALL the shows on our “Embalmination tour 2013” (each one was an adventure and the band’s first full “tour” experience)
b) Foothills Gutfest 2013 (Colorado Springs) – This was the absolute HIGHEST we all have been in our lives and it is amazing we were able to headline at the end. Still, hahaha
c) Philadelphia Infest/NY Deathfest – We always have a blast at USELESS CHRIST shows, and I will always remember the Philly show as the first “Fest” that I was able to play with the band
d) Brian Pattison’s birthday show 2014 in Buffalo (w/ Rottrevore, Derketa, Dark Apathy) all great bands and friends
e) The Houston date of our “Texecution mini-tour” 2014 where we played a super intense set and got extra fucked up!!
f) Summer Sleaze 2014 – An outdoor fest in Johnstown PA, sponsored by Signature Riff. Great food, outdoor atmosphere, sick bands, and good friends!
TO: Thank you guys. We are very excited to have Embalmer back, wreaking havoc once again. Is there anything else you’d like to convey?
Embalmer: THANK YOU so much for such a great interview, and we are excited to BE back! These questions were detailed and a joy to respond to. It is always great getting an interview from someone who was an old fan and knows the history of the band. We appreciate everyone who has stuck by us all these years through the ups and downs, and we hope that everyone checks out the new album! We worked really hard to make what we felt was a PROPER comeback record, and we love reading all the great comments and reviews out so far. So if you are an old fan, or someone who is just getting into EMBALMER for the first time, grab ‘Emanations from the Crypt’ from Hells Headbangers and give it a rip!
Remember that true underground DEATH never dies, and with each and everyone’s support this music will live on into the horrid future! Get out to a show, write a letter, buy some merch, and most of all support the bands you are into no matter who they are. Keep the essence of putrid death metal burning strong…..
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