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MATT HARVEY UTTERS THE REANIMATION RITES OVER EXHUMED
Five clinically clean and desperately sterile years on from entering hiatus, and California’s Exhumed, a band buried deep like a carrion crow in the cooling flesh of American extreme metal, linked to a myraid of equally respected bands through their constantly shuffling line-up, are finally back, bringing with them their first full-length of original material since 2003’s exhilarating, slime-drenched beast of a record, ‘Anatomy Is Destiny’, for the end of this year. Or so vocalist/guitarist and sole original member Matt Harvey promises.
“I’m stoked that the scene has kind of made a bit of room for bands that play the older style of death metal again,” he confesses of the reasoning behind the band’s return, which began when he returned to California from Hawaii and got talking with his cadaverous comrades, “because I feel like Exhumed have a lot more commonality with Autopsy than with Annotations Of An Autopsy, so it’s killer that there’re bands doing the older style again – as well as bands that continue to push the boundaries and progress the genre. And even the weird kid bands with too many words in their names seem like the more they progress, the more death metal they’re getting, so I think that the whole zeitgeist of things is moving in the right direction. The death metal scene now is a much healthier place for us to be than it was in ’05.”
Based around a line-up of long-term collaborators – ex-Phobia man Leon Del Muerte on bass/vocals, fromer Fatalist guitarist Wes Caley and Intronaut drummer Danny Walker – though there are no surprises, and the group came together quite naturally, Harvey is keen to emphasise what this means for the band.
“I think if I was working with the ‘classic’ line-up we’d be pretty limited as far as pursuing touring opportunities and really doing this full-on, the way that it has to be. I’ve been waiting like five-plus years to make a new record with Wes and Danny involved so that really got me fired up. And Leon is a great riff-writer and probably the best guy to have on tour with you ever, from a lot of perspectives,” he says, adding with a laugh. “He keeps the rude alcoholic vibe that we all enjoy revelling in going strong!
“The writing has actually been really collaborative, with both Wes and I coming up with a ton of material, then working together with the other guys to cherry-pick the best of it to make the strongest record possible. I think we both kind of push each other to write more and better stuff; I’d hear one of his tracks and get blown away, so I’d have to get back to the drawing board and come up with something even heavier, so there’s a bit of inspiration/healthy competition in the dynamic that’s been really exciting. I also recently got to demo all the songs for Col [Jones, ex-Exhumed drummer, currently drums in Cretin, Repulsion, Dekapitator] and the rest of Cretin to get their feedback, which was really positive. They’re some of my oldest friends and would definitely give it to me straight if the material wasn’t up to snuff. We’ll be getting together before recording this fall to rehearse and put all the pieces together.”
Though undeniably drunk on death metal right now, five years is an age in ‘metal years’ and two or more generations of young deathsters have discovered the buzzsaw riff and blastbeat, scoured the internet for 7”s to download and faded tour t-shirts to alter. Harvey is understandably bemused.
“I have been so out of death metal since ’05: playing thrash in Dekapitator and Scarecrow, and doing the occasional Repulsion show is not much of a way to keep your finger on the pulse of the scene. It’s usually just a bunch of geezers drinking and talking about tape trading,” he laughs. “A good friend of mine out in Hawaii played me the Job For A Cowboy cover of ‘Matter Of Splatter’, which was kind of flattering and weird, but I don’t really know if new kids are getting turned on to the band, to be honest. If they are that’s great, if not, that’s okay too – I do know that everyone involved with the band throughout the years has been asked many, many times at shows, online, wherever, when/if the band’s coming back, so it’s nice that folks haven’t forgotten about it. But ultimately, I’ve always done/not done Exhumed because it’s what I wanted to do, and if other people are on board, then that’s awesome – if not, that’s cool too, we’ve never been ‘popular’ or particularly ‘cool’ and that’s never been what Exhumed have been about. To quote that old Roadrunner ad back when they used to actually put out cool records: ‘Some music was meant to stay underground’, dude.”