Coffinworm: Band Of The Day

By on 4 April 2014


You’ve probably already noticed, but the amount of ludicrously named sub-sub-sub-genres being coined at the moment is getting kind of silly. But don’t despair, the next time you find yourself broiling with rage because someone referred to your favourite band as “atmospheric blackened post-caverncore”, just remember that the reason all these almost autistic levels of classification exist is actually an extremely heartening one – metal is getting more varied, diverse and interesting by the day, and as more and more bands blur the lines between established tropes like death, black, doom, grind etc., the vocabulary of music nerds the world over reaches increasingly nonsensical levels in a vague attempt to figure out just where the hell they should categorise records like ‘Hatred For Mankind’, ‘Pervertor’ or, indeed, Coffinworm’s intense new album ‘IV.I.VIII.’

Coffinworm are often referred to as a sludge band, and whilst their predilection for lumbering, weighty grooves, thick, harrowing dirges and vitriolic levels of hatred will certainly endear them to doom fanatics, there’s something much more sinister lurking within the band’s murky sound. Their crushing 2009 demo ‘Great Bringer Of Night’ and solid debut ‘When All Become None’ hinted at the quintet’s appreciation for all things grim, acerbic and thoroughly evil, but ‘IV.I.VIII’ is even more of a vicious and untamed beast.

As soon as the absolutely furious wall of blasts and skin crawling, tremolo picked riffs of depraved opener ‘Sympathectomy’ launch out of your speakers and grab you by the throat, it should be immediately apparent that isn’t your bog-standard sludge fare we’re dealing with here. There are riffs on this thing that your local troupe of erstwhile death metal die-hards would gladly trade their entire collection of vintage Merciless patches for, and the Iron-Monkey-meets-Darkthrone blitzkrieg of ‘A Death Sentence Called Life’ makes most of today’s black metal chancers look about as evil as the toy dog grouping at Crufts.

Seeing as Coffinworm seem to be on top form right now, we decided to catch up with the band to find out more how they summoned up such an overwhelming sense of evil for this new record, and picked up some tips on how to cope with the “miasma of farts” that awaits you on tour…

WORDS: Kez Whelan

WHO ARE THEY: Coffinworm
WHERE ARE THEY FROM: Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
FOR FANS OF: Dragged Into Sunlight, Lord Mantis, Primitive Man
LATEST RELEASE: ‘IV.I.VIII.’ (Profound Lore Records)
WEBSITE: Official site, Facebook, Twitter & Bandcamp

Could you tell us briefly how you all met, and how Coffinworm came into existence?
“We were all friends before Coffinworm formed. Garrett and I had been playing together in a band that was breaking up around the time Coffinworm got together. Tony was moving back to Indianapolis after living outside of Chicago for a few years — he and I had talked about doing a project together and Dave and Todd played with him in another band called Black Arrows of Filth & Impurity. We all sat down over some beers to discuss direction and had our first practice soon after.”

Did you have a specific sound in mind when you formed the band, or did that grow and evolve as you played together?
“At first it wasn’t terribly specific, other than keeping it (mostly) slow, heavy, and drawing inspiration from the bands that all of us come together on. Initially, the direction was more of a sludge thing, but with all of us coming from a punk background and having very diverse influences that didn’t last very long. I think in retrospect, even the first album was still us sifting through our writing process to find our sound. With the new album, I feel like we finally sound like ourselves.”

What kind of stuff are you and the rest of the band into? Who would you cite as influences?
“A bit of everything, really. For myself, I always have the Melvins, Celtic Frost, Motorhead, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Danzig, Killing Joke, Slayer, and Thin Lizzy in regular rotation. I’ve been stuck on that new Nothing record lately and the last Windhand album has been a constant listen since it came out last year. Same with everything Chelsea Wolfe has released, she’s brilliant. The forthcoming Impetuous Ritual record is a total motherfucker, utter chaos. I listen to a lot of music every day… crust, hip hop, a lot of bop-era jazz, traditional and harsh doom, death metal, etc. It all seeps into how I write riffs/songs, and the same goes for the rest of the guys. We’re all fans of music in general and there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure. If it resonates with you, it’s good.

“As for influences for the band, we’ve always come together over Darkthrone, Celtic Frost, Eyehategod, Dwarves, His Hero Is Gone, PJ Harvey, Craft, Wu-Tang Clan and the first solo albums, Swedish death metal, Buried at Sea, Cianide, and a few of the bands from Indianapolis that had an inspiring effect on us (especially The Gates of Slumber, Ice Nine, and The Dream Is Dead). However, it’s always been that pretty much any idea that gets brought to the practice room is fair game if it passes everyone’s standards. This band has never been about writing within a specific framework.”

‘IV.I.VIII’ is sounding incredible, it’s easily the nastiest thing you guys have put to tape yet (to my ears at least!). How was the writing process for this record, did you do anything differently than last time?
“Thank you. The writing process was a slow boil. We have always worked that way, but with Tony’s departure from the band followed by me moving to guitar and Josh coming in to play drums, it took some time to get up to speed and lock in together. We wrote a lot of material that got scrapped, even fully finished songs. The second record had to be next level for us and there was a lot of self-imposed pressure for the songs to shy away from being easy to compartmentalize. I still like the songs on our first record, I’m proud of what we did on ‘When All Became None’, but we were still finding our footing. I think there were parts of songs on the first album that were too predictable, but with these new songs we made a conscious effort to better weave together many different elements into that “churning riff” style that is at the core of our sound. I don’t feel like you can listen to any of these new songs and say it sounds like another band in particular.”

Sanford Parker’s production job sounds killer too. How did you find it working with him?
“Sanford is the man. After recording ‘When All Became None’ with him, there wasn’t really a decision to be made about who to work with on the second album. He’s an incredible engineer and producer, and he gets us and what we do. He’s a friend and we value his opinion highly when it comes to execution and ideas. Working with Sanford in the studio is a pleasure and he’s got a great presence in what can be a very stressful, frustrating situation. He knows how to coax the best takes out of a band without bruising egos, he keeps the laughs coming, and isn’t afraid to jump in to get his hands dirty with his own ideas.”

What kind of things have influenced your lyrical approach this time round?
“Some really serious stuff happened to Dave last year that brought him to this realization with his lyrics, that they weren’t reflective of the person he was, so he destroyed all the lyrics he had for the new album aside from ‘Instant Death Syndrome’ since we had recorded and released it already. He’s said the original lyrics seemed as if a different person wrote them. So, the lyrics for the other five songs that comprise ‘IV.I.VIII’ were written in the studio over the two sessions for the album.”

It’s good to see ‘Instant Death Syndrome’ making a comeback, the new version somehow sounds even heavier than the one on the Fistula split. How did you get in touch with Fistula to put out that split, and have you got any other split releases lined up on the horizon?
“It’s definitely heavier than the split 7″ version. I recorded that version in our practice space and we didn’t do anything special for that, just the song it’s played live — no overdubs or layers. That song was the beginning of the material that would appear on the new album. Even though it was released on the split with Fistula, it was only available to a limited audience and deserved to be given the proper recording treatment by Sanford’s hands. As for getting in touch with Fistula, Dave had hipped the rest of us to the ‘Goat’ EP when it came out and we were hooked. They’re such a killer band and that release in particular got a lot of playtime in our camp. We had been in contact with Corey from Fistula after that and talked about the possibility of playing a show together. Our friends Unearthly Trance were originally supposed to be the other band we shared the split with, but after their Japanese tour with the Melvins and High on Fire got cut short by the earthquake and tsunami they decided to go on a hiatus. Dave suggested Fistula to do the split in their place, which was a no brainer. An email and 24 hours later they were confirmed.”

How are your touring plans looking for the next months? Is there any chance we’ll get to see Coffinworm play in the UK any time soon?
“As of right now we have no touring plans confirmed, but if there were an offer we’d love to play in the UK and Europe.”

What’s been your best moment as a band? And on the flipside, what’s been the worst thing to happen to you in music?
“In my opinion, the best moment as a band has been finishing this second record. The three (plus) years between ‘When All Became None’ being released and when we entered the studio to record ‘IV.I.VIII’ were fraught with a lot of complications, frustrations, and disappointments. There were plenty of high moments, too, but most of the time it was like pushing a dead elephant uphill to get the material finished and studio-ready. I’m extremely proud of the end result, though, and the big payoff was being at Earth Analog studio, working with Sanford Parker again, pumping life into these songs. We’re all very proud of these songs and how the album came out.

“At the end of the day I don’t know that there’s been anything I’d consider a lowest point or the worst thing to happen to us. Everything is a learning experience and you have to keep a sense of humor. Even when you’re driving down a mountain at 4 a.m. on no sleep after playing to a mostly empty room, all you can smell in the van is a miasma of farts, and you’re still 8 hours from home, you have to laugh at that shit.”

What does the future have in store for Coffinworm?
“Right now we’re getting prepared to do an album release show and booking out some shows for summer. We have a song that was recorded in the same sessions as the material on ‘IV.I.VIII’ that will appear on a split release that we’ll announce once the details are further along.”

About Kez Whelan

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

%d bloggers like this: