Webzine: Vibrations Of Doom / USA
Article: The Road to Symbolic

Written by: Steven Cannon
Published: # 9 spring 1995



Death has released their 6th full length album entitled "Symbolic" on none other than Roadrunner Records! Gene explains to us what a long trip it's been, and says this about the dissolution of Dark Angel: "In 1992, Ron Rineheart quit the band, he did the last two records Dark Angel put out. It was very disappointing because we went through this long search to find him after we had to kick our original singer Don Doty out, and it got to the point where I said I just don't want to start all over again. So, I told the remaining members I wanted out as well, so I grabbed Chris, my guitar player, with me, and that left Dark Angel with two members. Ron basically didn't want to be in the music business anymore, which was kinda sad. Anyway, Eric and I put a band together, and nothing happened with that at all. A month after Dark Angel died, Chuck called up, and I was already used to playing double bass in Dark Angel, so doing Death was no problem for me." Playing and composing is a little more involved for the group, as Gene tells us, "I write all the drum parts myself. Chuck just tells me to go sick, and he will give me a tape with the songs completed and he'll tell me to put beats down, change whatever I want, he gives me complete control on my writing, but as far as lyrics and what not, Chuck writes the lyrics himself."

As far as being originators of the scene, Gene feels that though there are some new ideas to be presented with the newest release "Symbolic", he readily admits that "death metal really has stagnated, but you can't blame Death for that. To a lot of people, we created death metal, so we can redefine it whenever we feel like it. We're not trying to be cocky, but that's what this new record is all about. When 'Scream Bloody Gore' came out, it was the best the band had to offer at the time. This is a few members later and a few years down the road. 'Leprosy' came out and that was vastly improved over the first record. Every record pretty much redefined the sound for us and for other bands that were coming into the scene. Lots of people are really praising this album, even people who couldn't quite grasp death metal before are saying what a breath of fresh air this release is. Maybe this album will help people get into stuff that's even more extreme, like Cannibal Corpse and Broken Hope. The thing that strikes you right off the top is the fact that we had more time to prepare for this one. The production is a vast improvement, we even have a new producer in Jim Morris. We had a lot of time for this one, because like on 'Individual Thought Patterns' we had about three weeks to learn and record the material, on this album we had the songs for about nine months. We rehearsed right before we went in the studio for three months straight, five days a week! Chuck's voice still sounds just as good as it did before, and things were running very smoothly for us."

Currently, they are on a world tour with Sepultura in Europe, doing three weeks of festivals with bands like Morgoth, Grave, Gorefest, and a band called Hate Squad. The tour starts in April, and they will probably start their U.S. tour in late May, and as of yet are unsure of who they will tour with here, though Gene wants to take Grip Incorporated (Dave Lombardo's new band - SC) with them. "I think they are involved in a European tour right now, so it may not happen, but the new record is very good. It's quite cool, I think it's rather old school, very thrash metal. The singer, a guy named Gus, is a 38 year old O.G. punk rocker. He's from England and has a real punk attitude. There is Slayer all over this, but hey, it's no problem to me, after all, he wrote some of the stuff in Slayer. They have a song called 'Hostage to Heaven' and that showcases Dave's most slamming drums ever."

Gene and I started reminsicing a bit about the old Combat label: "Combat in the late 80's ruled. The deal Combat had with Relativity was stupid towards the 90's. Relativity is a former shell of what they once were, and we had been trying to get off of Relativity for about 3 years. Combat (responsible for the signing of Dark Angel after their second record - SC) had so many great bands on them, like Possessed, Kreator, Celtic Frost, Death, and I have a lot of that stuff on vinyl. Chuck has a lot of that stuff on vinyl too, and even the Iron Angel "Hellish Crossfire" album you like so much. (He promised me he'd check to see if the original vinyl version of I.A. had a lyric sheet! - SC) I like a lot of those old bands, and you know, now that you mention it, Tank was a BIG influence on Dark Angel! Yeah, surprising enough, Jim's favorite band was Dark Angel, even Wargasm has Tank written all over it. Although those bands are long gone, people like Chuck and I, and even Lars, will promote it, and try to get that stuff out to people. People will check out these bands one way or another, and with that New Wave of British Heavy metal compilation more of these bands will be pushed to the front of people's attention. When Lars was first doing it it really wasn't time for this stuff yet, but people will find out about this great stuff sooner or later. You can just keep going back and back, finding out where your favorite bands got their style and sound. Every band out there has an eariler style of influence. Bands that we grew up on were important for our style and sound, and people ask us all the time how we got our sound and style from. We really care about where we came from and what our sounds grew out of. Chuck is very much into old school metal."

Finally, even lyrics have changed this time around, and though Gene doesn't write much of the lyrics, Gene knows a bit about the style of writing songs: "I know Chuck wrote super gory lyrics for 'Scream Bloody Gore.' He grew up on horror flics, and that was considered heavy at the time. The new stuff, while being a bit more intelligent, is still scary to Chuck. He looks around and sees stuff that interest him or things in reality that scare him. After all, when you're 18, you say 'what can I say to shock people,' but now Chuck writes lyrics that make you think. Sometimes things in today's society are much scarier than horror. We still play the old stuff, however, because like we said we don't believe in forgetting where we came from. This tour we are definitely changing our set, we are doing a couple of older songs that the band hasn't played live in 5 years. We are gonna do some stuff from the second album, and we may pull a song off the first album that hasn't been played since the record came out. So look out for us on the road, and check out the new tunes as well as our older stuff. I could talk about music for hours, but definitely keep an open mind when you listen to this new record, and realize that if death metal wants to survive, things need to change. Death metal needs to be as open minded in music as anything else. We're not trying to prove anything to people, but we want people to give death metal a chance." 'Nuff said!


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Edited for Empty©Words 10-13-05