Shed the Skin’s debut record is something that has been highly anticipated, ever since the release of their EP ‘Rebirth Through Brimstone’. Following an almost two year wait, the band is all set to unleash their full length titled ‘Harrowing Faith’ through Hells Headbangers Records. Dark, Satanic and absolutely vicious, Shed the Skin play death metal in its most fiendish form, with no pandering to one particular sub-genre of this style. Incorporating elements of styles like brutal and melodic death metal, ‘Harrowing Faith’ is a well rounded affair that should come as a treat to any death metal aficionado worth his salt.
Ahead of their 24th June release date, we managed to have a word with the band’s drummer Kyle Severn (who also plays for bands like Incantation and Wolfen Society) the details of which can be read below. Also, we have a brand new song (the title track) streaming to give you a taste of what the album has in store.
Transcending Obscurity (Shrivatsan R) : Hey guys. How are you? Your debut album is set to be released soon. What should the fans be expecting from the album?
Shed the Skin (Kyle) : I’m doing well, thanks for asking, I’m just as excited for this full length to come out as much as the rest of the world is!! They should expect aggressive death metal the way it was created when the term death metal was created!! Our roots come from early 90’s American, Swedish scenes, and death metal from all over the world, so we just let that side of our creative blood flow. The band is created and based around Cleveland’s Blood Of Christ, so we tried to keep that feeling in the songs, as well as all of our own flavours.
TO: Shed the Skin was born as a tribute to Blood of Christ, after Tom Rojack’s passing. How did the members come to the decision to continue as a full time band?
Kyle : Yes that is correct, and simply put, Matt (Sorg) and I really clicked while playing these Blood of Christ songs (we had never played together, but had been friends for many many years). Neither one of us thought the other would have time or would want to be involved in another band or project ( Since the two of us are busy with Incantation and Ringworm), but after a few weeks I reached out to Matt and asked him if he would want to get together and jam, and he said he had been thinking the same thing, and that was it!!! I think it was a day later he started sending me riffs…. We had gathered structures for 3 songs, and decided to reach out to Hells Headbangers to keep it in Cleveland and release the 2 song EP and they were totally down. Matt had recruited bandmate and friend Ed Stephens for bass duties, and I had reached out to good friend Ash Thomas to do vocals, and with the addition of Brian Boston to add some super cool erie keyboard accents, and wham-o- we had an amazing death metal project!!!!
TO (Chris Dahlberg) : How long did it take for this material to come together? How do you guys approach the writing process, are a lot of parts written individually or is a lot of it worked out together?
Kyle : Well not sure if he wants me to tell this to the world, but Matt would eat Pot Brownies and start writing riffs, he would work over nights, so in the morning when I would get up, there would be one riff, followed by another riff, with another riff, then a partially structured song, and so on…. It was great because I could feel the song coming together through the multiple sessions he would send. I could feel the brownie effect..hahaha.. I would then just create drums patterns, then after we had a few songs structured we got together for the first time to play and hear what these songs sounded like together. We only had to make minor adjustments, we clicked well. After the EP, the writing process went the same way for the full length, we had most of the record written before we jammed together, and when we did it was a blast working out the kinks and making them into great death metal tracks.
TO : Considering that all the members are part of other bands like Ringworm, Incantation, FaithXtractor and Beyond Fear, how difficult is it to dedicate time for Shed the Skin?
Kyle : Yes getting everyone together is difficult, we have had limited time to work together as a band, but when we do we make the most of it. We will try to do as many double duty live shows as possible so we can get some stage time in. So far, we’ve been able to make it work out well. We all do our homework!!!
TO : Shed the Skin has a death metal sound that is not focused on one single era or one single subgenre. Was this a conscious decision from the band’s side? Are there influences carried over from other bands that the members are a part of?
Kyle : As previously mentioned, we are just letting what naturally comes out. Matt, Ash and I all have similar influences from early heavy metal / hard rock and we were both creating music as a part of the early 90’s metal Scene. So no direct style other than trying to stay similar to Tom Rojack’s creativity in Blood Of Christ, which for those of you not familiar, GET FAMILIAR!!!! Also for those of you that don’t know, Matt Sorg had played in Blood Of Christ with Tom on a few releases.
TO (Chris Dahlberg) : Mixing and mastering was handled by the legendary Dan Swanö. Tell us more about working with him and how you think he was able to bring out your sound on the finished album.
Kyle : That was a no brainer!! I had been working with Swanö on the Incantation releases for the past 5 years now, he does amazing work, and the fact that Shed the Skin had a swedish touch in the song writing process, who better than the man, the swede himself!! It was a very easy process, we had good raw takes, Dan already knew the drum sound I wanted, Ash and Matt sent over a list of notes, and Dan nailed it!!! DONE!!!
TO (Chris Dahlberg) : Hells Headbangers has been a supporter of your material since the first EP. How did this collaboration come about, was it an easy choice because many of the other bands you’re in have released records with the label?
Kyle : We wanted to keep it in Cleveland, Chase and HHR are good friends of ours and we thought it was fitting to keep it in the family!! We are happy that they accepted to release our products. They always do an amazing job on their releases.
TO: You guys are slated to appear at Maryland Deathfest soon and following that, you’ll also be playing at Hells Headbash. How does a usual Shed the Skin live performance go? Are there more live appearances planned to support the album?
Kyle : We have only played one live performance prior to these upcoming shows, and it was in Cleveland opening for an Incantation show for the EP release. It went well, especially for the first time this line up of players shared the stage. We are scheduled for 3 shows this year so far. As mentioned MDF this weekend, a CD/LP release show in Columbus, Ohio on June 24th and then HHB on Labor day weekend.
TO (Chris Dahlberg) : Chuck Sherwood from Incantation is listed as providing lyrics for ‘Harrowing Faith’. Can you tell us more about his contributions?
Kyle : Chuck is a lyric writing machine. He has been writing majority of all the Incantation lyrics for the past few records, so I asked him to write some satanic stories that we wouldn’t be able to use for Incantation. He loved the idea, it let him stretch his boundaries a little bit more. Sometimes he would write on spot!! Amazing!! Then to top it all off, Ash was able to take his words as is and just fit them perfectly into the music. That was truly mind blowing. Chuck was excited about that, because I usually have to have Chuck rewrite and rework the words to fit the Incantation patterns we create.
TO : How was the album art conceptualized? Was it all James “Human Furnace” Bulloch’s idea, or did the band also have their inputs?
Kyle : That was all from the demented, disturbing mind of James. He created the logo, the snake/cross STS logo, the artwork, that was all him. We ask James to be involved, not only because he is a bandmate of Ed and Matt, but we have all been friends for as far back as I can remember, so again we wanted to keep it in the Cleve –o- Family!!! For those of you not familiar, James did all the Blood of Christ artwork back in the day, so again we have that connection as well to keep.
TO: Thanks guys. We’re really looking forward to the release of ‘Harrowing Faith’. Any final words for our readers?
Kyle : Thanks for the questions, it was a blast answering them for you. Not only is the music of Shed the Skin brutal fucking death metal that any metal fan is going to love, but we have had a great time creating it and looking forward to playing it live. We have a great history, we are all old goats that have been doing this forever and are still doing it. We have already started working on new material, we hope everyone loves it as much as we have loved creating it!!!! 666