Technical and brutal extreme metal is all the rage these days, and one band that's at the forefront of the movement is Oakland's All Shall Perish. Their latest CD for Nuclear Blast Records, Awaken the Dreamers is a killer assualt of crushing,complex riffery, acrobatic guitar solos, tremendous groove, stomping breakdowns, and plenty of melody. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo got a hold of ace rhythm guitarist Ben Orum to talk about the new CD and what sets apart All Shall Perish from the many other acts making a splash on the extreme metal scene these days.
SoT: The Price of Existence was a very strong album and quite frankly a tough act to follow, but with Awaken the Dreamers you guys have managed to perhaps not only top that one, but added some new elements to the band as well. How happy are you with the new CD, and how has reaction been from the fans and critics?
Ben: Both albums were very enjoyable to write, and we have separate visions for both. We are extremely happy with how everything came out on the new disc. The reaction has been about 95% positive, I think we pissed off that other 5% who were die hard HATE.MALICE.REVENGE fans. I find that the death metal elite crowd get very upset if you disrupt the brutality on your CD with some non guttural vocals, or some tranquil interludes! I'm sure in 15 years when those kids are older and go back and listen to Awaken the Dreamers, they will finally GET it. That's how I was with Carcass's CD SWANSONG, I thought it was a total pile of shit when it came out, now I listen to it when I want to drive fast!
SoT: There's a lot more melodic moments on this one, spliced in between the brutality and the 'chops from hell'. Did you purposefully intend to inject more melody and groove on this release?
Ben: I have always been a fan of that style of music, from Pink Floyd to DJ Shadow.. There is so much that you can do writing in that style, so many emotions that you convey that I felt as a guitarist that we should try to capture. It's a lot of fun for me to change things up and experiment with a completely different vibe than we are used to. As for the groove, that comes completely natural to ASP! We have always been a very solid groove oriented band, and I think all 5 of us know when its time to get the listener to shake their ass.
SoT: Some fans are divided on the inclusion of some clean vocal passages from Hernan, but I think they add a great element to your overall attack. Is that something you are going to do more of in the future?
Ben: Thanks! You know, we all really wanted Hernan's vocals to be dynamic on this release. Nowadays, death metal bands are a dime a dozen, and its really difficult for a vocalist to stand out and have his or her own sound. When someone finds a unique sound, the next day there are 40 bands that are copying it. Our goal with Hernan's vocal's on ATD was to deliver a unique, powerful and memorable performance, and I think he did a great job.
SoT: The music of All Shall Perish mixes in death metal, grind, hardcore, and progressive metal all into one seamless style. How would you descibe the music of the band to someone whose never heard ASP before?
Ben: When I try to explain to someone like my step-mom who has NO CLUE about metal what ASP sounds like, I usually just say we are a Heavy band that will make you want to break stuff and at moments, make you shed a tear.. But mostly you will want to break stuff. I hate to pideonhole us with genre tags, so to the average metal head, I just say we are Death Metal.
SoT: You guys are in the midst of a tour right now-how is that going so far, and can you talk about the other bands on the bill and how you are all getting along?
Ben: The tour is crushing, Hate Eternal dropped off a few shows, so now we are playing right under Job For a Cowboy. We seem to be getting a pretty insane reaction every night, which is fantastic.. lots of crowd interaction! All the bands are good friends of ours, Animosity, JFAC, Hate Eternal.. all great dudes.
SoT: What types of guitars and gear did you all use to record this album?
Ben: The savage guitar tone we got on this CD was obtained with a Rocktron Prophecy 2 processor playing through a Marshall. Most of the songs were played on Dean guitars, Stabbing to Purge.. was played on a Schecter. The chill interludes we did on an old Fender guitar.
SoT: Signing to Nuclear Blast a few years back was a big score for the band-how has that helped the career of the band so far?
Ben: I can't think of a single bad thing when it comes to Nuclear Blast Records. Their whole team has really gone to bat for our band, and for that we are truly thankful. They are very supportive with our career, especially with this album release in particular. They make sure that we are funded on the road, and they spend big money to make sure our name is out there. What more could we ask for?!
SoT: That's always great to hear in this day and age!! If you could pick two other bands that you could tour with right now for a killer triple bill, who would they be?
Ben: Lamb of God, All Shall Perish, The Faceless
SoT: Technical extreme metal seems to be all the rage these days, with bands like Beneath the Massacre, Origin, Brain Drill,Nile, Psycroptic, and others, totally pushing the boundaries of what technical death metal is all about-is All Shall Perish prepared to takes things to an even higher level next time around?
Ben: Technical metal comes in goes in popularity, and while we all love it.. its not really a main focus for the band. I think technical metal can only hold the average listeners ear for so long before it becomes a challenge for them to grasp. ASP is more about writing unique and interesting songs, rather than focusing strictly on technique and speed. Sure, we have some tech and shred parts in our songs, but they are truly not the main focus of what's going on in the song writing puzzle. Next time around, I think there will be plenty of crazy surprises for fans of tech, just like all of our releases.
(Click here to read our reviews of Awaken the Dreamers)