Originally written by Ian Chainey
Some bands love their influences. Then, there are the bands that live their influences, that are wholly shaped by their influences. Brutally Deceased, a collective of Czech grinders and growlers with connections to the scene’s craziest and most curious, is a cacophonous clatterer of the latter description.
The lasting effects of their particular epiphany has shaved and engraved their essence via a tool sharpened by the wistful whetstone teenage adoration. The product, a primal buzz of deafening OSDM, is a conscious return to a point in their lives when anything seemed possible, when they stood upon the precipice of adulthood and foresaw a future in the left hand path. But, before we go too far, let’s take it back to earlier in the paragraph: Nostalgia is their muse, so perhaps “engraved” would be better typed as “enGraved.” Hey, even their nom de blargh would suggest such an endorsement.
Indeed, Brutally Deceased’s deeply carved ideals catch the right amount of Sunlight. And, yes, they are one of many detectives digging through the Swedish cemetery for relics of bygone outrageousness. Yet, their recently released second LP, Black Infernal Vortex, doesn’t spin like a thrift shop purchase, nor does it come off as an exercise in bouncing against a self-imposed ceiling of devotional purity. In other words, you think, Huh, this is damn good, rather than, Huh, they really dig Grave. That’s impressive. Remember: It’s always easier to ape. But, to evoke without downright copying? To relive instead of replicating? For a retro-centric sound preserver, that’s no small feat.
Interest piqued? You’re now cordially invited to be destroyed by “Devil’s Tarn”:
Let’s drop the literary pretense for a sec: Hoooooooly heck.
So, let’s recap. True, that track checks all of the requisite boxes. Amps doubling as a squat for wasps? Check. The shambling zombie version of metal’s god damned gallop? Check. The larynx eviscerating growl of an alpha wolf? Check. If you submitted Black Infernal Vortex for appraisal to your local dealer in death antiques, they wouldn’t have to listen twice to stamp it as an authentic product of Scandinavia. Of course, it’s not. However, the fact that it’s not isn’t as important as the fact that you want to listen twice. Thrice. Whatever iteration is the stand-in for one thousand. That’s the takeaway. That’s the reason you’ve heard it before, but, really, you haven’t at all. It’s like an alternate perspective of a fond remembrance, another viewpoint from someone who also lived it.
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Looking over Brutally Deceased’s band connections, one finds links to Czech grind’s best and brutal-est. How did you guys come together? Was it a shared interest in Grave or was it more random?
Not really shared interest in Grave, though we like them and obviously we took our name from their song, but more interest in Sunlight sound and death metal bands of that time in general. We got together as time went by, if I could say.
We started back in 2007 as take it easy project, all musicians from freshly broken-up bands, just to have fun and do something different, which evolved into a Swedish, OSDM style of playing very quickly.
Speaking about links to other bands, it more than anything expresses the fact that the Czech scene is pretty small one and the amount of people, that are devoted and determined to this kind of music, is really limited. If you are looking for musicians to play with, you gonna ask your friends from a few good bands around. No matter if its death metal or grindcore, the music and social background here, especially in Prague, is the same. If they will turn that offer down, then there is not much of a choice. We are a state in a state.
Speaking of Grave, you guys definitely aim and bullseye that OSDM Sunlight sound. Is there ever a point when you worry a section might be too close to your influences? Or, is it just about writing/performing great songs?
Truthfully, I wrote one passage on our first CD where I felt like “oh man, it sounds so cool, but it reminds me of something,” but I didn´t figured out what is it, so I left it like that. Just few weeks after we recorded Dead Lovers´ Guide I found out where I hadheard it before and man, its almost shameful how similar it sounds… but hey, we still play this song live and don´t give a fuck at all.
Anyway, there are no such passages on our new CD, because we have broadened our style, approach, and death metal expression while keeping that Swedish HM2 sound. Still I guess there will be a lot of people calling us Dismember, Grave, Entombed,etc. tribute or cover band so I guess in the end, its really about writing and performing cool riffs and songs, having good time and don´t care about other things.
I’m kind of in awe of your guitar and bass tone. Can you walk me through the set-up of your rigs? How long did it take to perfect those settings?
Thank you for your kind words, but there is no magic about our sound. We use HM-2 Boss pedals like all Swedish originators of that legendary “Sunlight sound” did, Mesa/Boogie amplifiers, Marshall cabinets and Jackson guitars. Our bass player uses some kind of distortion for live set, but for a record we used cleaner sound without any kind of distortion. Sure, it took us some time to realize, that it would be good to cut some edges here and there, but not with HM-2, we keep all buttons to the max. Unlike some other bands we use just HM-2 pedal distortion using clean channel on our amplifiers. Double distortion sounds horrible to me, but bands like Dismember use it and still sounds ok, so I guess Its matter of taste. We must give credit for our CD sound to the producer Jindra “Otyn” Tomanek. He used to play in bands Melancholy Pessimism and Pigsty, so he knows very well how to make it all sound (and how to make it as loud as possible).
What is it about the Czech scene that produces these top-notch death metal and grind bands? Is there a unifying factor? A national consciousness perfectly attuned to capturing extreme metal?
I would definitely agree with your opinion on grind bands and grindcore scene in general, but I guess there is nothing like unifying factor and with death metal… I don´t really see any top death metal bands in here, very few really good ones, but I think that death metal scene in general in Czech Republic is pretty weak. Especially those so-called regional Czech death metal legends; they really suck. We don´t even play gigs with death metal bands much, because there are just few acts to play with. I suppose that you have expected bit different answer, but that is how I see it. I give you my honesty: Czech grind scene thumbs up, Czech death metal scene thumbs down.
A bit of fun before we go: What would be your top five ’90s death metal albums and why?
Tough call, but I will try:
Suffocation – Pierced from Within
Death metal songwriting in its best. Beautiful blend of brutality, technicality, groove and catchiness with unique sense for guitar harmonies and melodies. There are no places on this record where you can actually think you can do it better. It is just the way it should be done plus the vocals… oh man. All the later brutal tech death bands are no way near to reach such death metal statement. They should do some 20th year anniversary tour next year, because every song is a masterpiece.
Morbid Angel – Covenant
I should pick Altars of Madness, Domination or Formulas Fatal to the Flesh as well. Morbid Angel is, in my opinion, without doubt the most influential death metal band ever. They were the one band showing others way for some 15 years at least. Despite the fact that their last record is strange one, if i keep on talking in a polite way, they really deserve much respect for what they have done for death metal. Ok, now why Covenant? Just look at tracklist, no more words needed.
Immolation – Here in After
Here in After or Close to the World Below, that was tough one to choose. Immolation brought very unique feel and form to somewhat stagnating style and made death metal sound like independent and very specific form of real musical art. They really opened brand new spaces and spheres, that no one was knowing about before. I think you have to grow up music wise to really appreciate music of these guys, all those twist and harmonies, and I was no exception. It took me some time (several years) to understand brilliance and uniqueness of this band, but the older I am the more respect I have for Immolation… and knowing them, they are really nice guys.
Gorguts – Obscura
Revolutionary record. Absolutely. There were maybe few hints on The Erosion of Sanity, but no one could expect such thing. Honestly I listen more to From Wisdom to Hate, which is much easier record (more traditional) to get into as well as the new one record (killer one indeed), but the most shocking punching release was without doubt Obscura.
Dismember – Like an Ever Flowing Stream
Since we do talk about Swedish death metal and sound, it should be polite from me to pick at least one band of this kind to my top 5 and I guess this might be the one release you have expected from me to mention. What should I say? Simply the best Swedish OSDM record ever produced. Some might argue with me about Dismember being strongly influenced by Entombed, but I will always prefer this one to Left Hand Path or Clandestine (both great records indeed).
Thanks again for your time! We greatly appreciate it.