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Abhorrent Decimation

I have a confession to make... have a thing for thematic albums. I’m not really sure what it is about those conceptual buggers, but when one of those babies gets dropped off for reviewing purposes, I am even more ears than I usually already am. I’m a sucker for stories, I guess. And for history. So, when an album drops that is based on the Medieval poem The Pardoner by Geoffrey Chaucer, you’ve got my attention. And even more when parts of the lyrics are in Middle English. And yet even more when the album turns out to be a scorcher of a death metal album. So that I would have to hit up Abhorrent Decimation for an interview, stood out like white clad virgin in a plague masque store. Well, that doesn’t really make any sense, but anyway, given the fact that ’The Pardoner’ kicked some serious Medieval butt, here’s our little chat with vocalist and lyricist Ashley Scott, on death metal, the Middle Ages, Bernie Clifton and beer…

By: Sicktus | Archive under death metal / grindcore

First off, compliments of ‘The Pardoner’. But before we go into the album, could you please introduce yourself and the band first?
Thank you very much. We are so pleased with the response so far! So, I’m Ashley Scott, Vocalist. There’s David Archer, bassist and producer. William Cooke, rhythm guitar. Ross ‘Lenny’ McLennan, lead guitar and Alex Micklewright, drums. We are Abhorrent Decimation.

About ‘The Pardoner’: I really enjoyed listening to it and reviewing it. I like how you blended fast, brutal death and well composed, epic, melodic bits, all the while giving it a feel that is kind off a mix of “old & new”, if that makes any sense at all. You guys have a history in quite a few bands, would you say Abhorrent Decimation is a ‘sum total’ of those previous experiences, influences?
Yeah, I understand what you mean. Well… I guess it’s more so a ‘sum total’ of our experience rather than any sonic influence of the past. Since forming the band, I’ve taken all the mistakes and failures made in previous efforts and tried to learn from those. Bringing Abhorrent Decimation to the table as cleanly and professionally as possible from the off, meant a great deal to me.

The sound is very convincing, very powerful. Did you have this sound in mind, or in other words, did the sound of the album turn out like you wanted it to? And how did you approach the recording process, especially since you guys aren’t new to recording. Any do’s / don’ts you’d like to share?
Yes, there was certainly a sound in mind, however none of us apart from Archer, really anticipated where it would end up. When we came to the end of the last album cycle, we wanted a dramatic change. We wanted rebirth, as such. We had to be brave and make some tough calls. We had agreed on a more modern sound, with a greater emphasis on musicality and structure above everything else. Our Bass player Archer really took the lead on writing and bringing the music for this record to life. Then once a few of the new tracks had been demoed, we was all so happy with how it was going to end up. The final outcome, like I said… surpassed our expectations. But we are all ecstatic with how it has turned out. We recorded in a fairly private manner. Our Bass player Archer recorded, mixed and mastered the whole thing. So whoever was recording their parts that day, was basically alone in the studio with Archer. He really worked us all and got the best possible performances out of us. It was by far the most relaxed environment the guys and I have ever recorded in. As such, our only real pressure was a self-imposed deadline. The label was super cool about the time we was taking, I guess they are very used to slow creative process. As for do’s and don’ts, recording ‘The Pardoner’ has taught me that the best way to get the closest representation of what you want to achieve, is to take as much creative control in house, as possible. This album was self-recorded, self-mixed and self-mastered, and while I know that was an awful lot of work for Archer to do, I know he is happy. As we have ended up with an album that is as close to perfect (IMO) as possible.

By now, you’ve had a release party in Reading and an afterparty gig in London, any highlights from those shows that jump out? What new songs got the best reaction, live?
Both shows went well, really sweet... but London really kicked off. The place was packed and there was a great buzz coming off the crowd. London was a highlight in itself as we hadn't played there in so long, it was just great to see so many people out and supporting us. I had my IEMs in for most of the London show, so I couldn’t really hear the crowd after each song, so I don’t actually know lol. But judging from the pits, I think ‘Granted Indulgence’, ‘A Glass Coffin Burial’ and ‘The Scythe In The Dark’ went down best.

Next up is (or probably ‘was’, depending on the moment of publishing this interview) is Bloodstock, got anything special planned for that one?
We’re really looking forward to BOA. We just picked up an awesome, massive 6x3 metre backdrop, so that is going to look glorious draped on the Sophie stage. As far as “anything special” goes, we’re just packing our A game and intend to smash the tits off the place. And if they didn’t know before, people will know who we are when we step off that stage.

How would you say you have changed, musically, since the ‘Infected Celestial Utopia’ EP?
That EP feels like a lifetime ago. We’ve got a completely different writing core from back then, so it is just inherently different. As nothing is coming from the same place, reference, inspiration, notion - it’s all changed. I think the main things that bind our catalogue together now is my voice and the drumming style. We have a way more mature sound these days, everything is painfully considered and tinkered to make it “just so”, whereas back then, things were quite slap-dash and hasty. We have really well thought out material now, progressive passages, dynamic, variation.

It looks like you guys are picking up steam, lately, am I right? The album seems to be well received, you’ve got some good gigs coming up... What’s the next step you’re working on?
Well, it certainly feels that way at this stage. There has been a lot more reach on this new album already, when compared to the last. We’ve got a couple more videos and creative projects in the pipeline that we are working on, then we will get back into the writing for the next album, it takes us a while, so we need to start soon ha. Really our focus is totally on the live show now. Perfecting everything and playing out as much as possible. So we are working with a few people to get things moving in the right direction.

The name Abhorrent Decimation, is that is a reference to the Roman form of (military) punishment? If so, why go with that name? Out of fascination with the rather cruel ancient ‘custom’, or maybe more out of a broad interest in history in general?
It was really nothing that considered or calculated ha. I wanted to call the band ‘Abhorrent’ but found out that was already taken. I liked the idea of a two word band name. It felt like abhorrent worked as the first word so I listed out a bunch of words ending in ‘tion’ and ‘Decimation’ was picked from that list. ‘Abhorrent Decimation’ was born.

Given the fact you’ve chosen Chaucer as a lyrical inspiration, I’m guessing you guys might be history buffs, a bit? Why Chaucer, or perhaps I should ask, why ‘The Pardoner’, out of the twenty plus Canterbury Tales? And why the Canterbury Tales, to begin with? Argh, okay, I’ll shut up and let you do the talking on this one...
Ha! We’re not such buffs. Basically, the long and short of it is that I wanted to run with a Black Death/Plague concept but near the end of the last album cycle, we toured out with a bloody great band called The Infernal Sea it turned out their album ‘The Great Mortality’ was all about the Black Death and the way in which people behaved at the time. Once I learned this, the plague concept was a dead end. But I had already done some research into Middle England and had gotten carried away with things by that point, so I wanted to stay within that period. The idea developed a little, into a concept album about a Medieval pilgrimage. I hadn’t quite decided what would happen in this pilgrimage, so I got a bunch of books out from the Library about Medieval England and started to try and get my head into those times. I wanted to know about clothes, architecture, food, drink, smells, sounds... just everything I could do to get this pilgrimage story rolling. And then in the glossary of one the books I picked up on some of the literature that was kicking about. Chaucer came up a few times by that point. I came into work one day and spoke with a good pal of mine about where the concept was going and he told me that he had actually studied ‘The Canterbury Tales’. He recommended a few of the Tales that may interest me, ‘The Pardoner’s Tale’ was top of the list. I read it first and fell in love. The pilgrimage concept was laid to rest and I began work on the ‘The Pardoner’.

band image

I absolutely love the artwork and am stoked this beast gets a vinyl release to showcase the art in a proper way! What can you tell us about the artist, the design, who came up with the concept, the idea?
The cover was an illustration created by German artist ‘Karmazid’. A long time ago, I found some of his work on Instagram and kept an eye on what he was putting out. I was thinking of getting him to do a t-shirt or poster design at that point but as the concept developed, I decided to ask him to do the full cover. The idea, basic design and composition was mine. I basically knocked up a very rough sketch of what I had in mind, super basic and he ran with it and built from there. I originally wanted ‘The Pardoner’ on horseback, to come in line with some of the visuals implied in the story but he came back with this idea of this huge ornate crucifix/sword thing, which I wasn’t sold on at first but I’m not one to stifle someone's creativity, so I let him run with it… and I am glad I did, as I think it looks awesome! He also added the terrifying face in the tree, top left. I love that too. Very subtle.

What was it that made you decide to do some of the lyrics in Middle English? And did you copy those lines from Chaucer and integrate them in your lyrics, or did you come up with original Middle English lines?
It was about striking a balance between translation and appreciation. If someone took the time to read the lyrics, I wanted them to put them into the story. One thing Chaucer is still unmatched on, was his ability to say so much in such few words. So there were many sections in the story and certain turns of phrase that I couldn’t overlook and had to integrate them into the lyrics. But where possible, I put my own twist on things.

So, ‘The Pardoner’ has only just been released, but do you have any future plans with The Canterbury Tales, or other historical epics? Or broader, any ideas – not necessarily history related – for the next Abhorrent Decimation release?
I’ve no plans to revisit that time period or ‘The Canterbury Tales’ again. Perhaps another character from another story or another point in history will grab me in the future. I’m reading as much as possible to allow as many inspirational doors to open as I can. I’m already assembling lyrics for our next album. I work out of an app called evernote, in which I save every little thing that comes to me. Single words, random lyrics, images, art, potential song titles, voice notes, quotes; you name it, it’s in there. If someone found it or got access to it, I would die of embarrassment ha. I intend to do something very unusual on the next album, I don’t want to spoil anything yet. But I will be coming from an inspiration point that I don’t know of many/any other bands have so obviously written about in this genre. I know we will push it forward for the next record and there will be some more stylistic honing to take place yet.

Your earlier release, the EP and ‘Miasmic Mutation’ have a more scifi / nihilistic / futuristic feel to them, both titles / topics and artwork. Some different altogether. Was there a lyrical or conceptual theme present on those releases as well, and if so, what was it?
Well, the EP was essentially a loose “spiritual apocalypse” narrative. The end of faith. The EP opens just before the apocalypse. I think it was track 1 and 2 was pre apocalypse, track 3 was the end, track 4 and 5 was post. I was not so into the idea of concept records at that point. We’ve broken no bones about admitting the EP was simply created to get something out there so we could get to work on the live scene. So conceptually, it is definitely the weakest. Then with Miasmic, I set out to do a concept record inspired by Dante’s Inferno. That didn't exactly turn out how I wanted it to, I lost vision on the concept fairly quickly but I enjoyed the record. There was lots of songs about the personal journey and also some positive messages in there too. It became a celebration of life and death and the “mutation” was the self, manifested. All a bit art-sy fart-sy.

So, that Bernie Clifton thing... The serious question: did you get a lot of coverage from that mix up, did it benefit you guys in any way? And the less serious question: so how about that cooperation with the old man...?
Ha, well we got a lot of unlikely coverage, put it that way. The story got us, a death metal band, into a lot of media you wouldn't otherwise normally see us in. We was on the 10 o’clock news, in national papers, on television shows, radio shows, invited to award ceremonies; it was a mad couple of days, that’s for sure. And yes, Bernie and his agent were fantastic and good hearted about it. He would of done well out of the whole thing too. His album got the limelight for a moment, which was nice. Bernie was really a great sport. A super nice guy. We wish him the best.

What are your plans with Abhorrent Decimation, after the gigs you’ve got planned and the World Domination Tour with Bernie? Any splits, EPs, videos or special gigs in the works?
We are working on another video at the moment, which we will put out once we have a solid winter run of shows planned out. We just want to play as many shows as we can. I’m looking at doing a run of shows at some record stores and then a show at a skatepark, which will be very cool, watch this space!

You’re Londoners, right? Where does a beer loving metalhead go in London, to drink some decent beer and get a dose of (live) metal in their ears, nowadays? I know the Black Heart and The Underworld in Camden, but I’m sure there’s other / better spots... Oh, and if you have any good London (metal) record stores to mention, I’ll happily include those as well...
The Black Heart is my favourite as it has a great selection of beers and ales, also we have a Brewdog just around the corner too! But The Unicorn and The Dev are both great venues in Camden as well. The Underworld and The Electric Ballroom also have some great packages come through. As for record stores, I only really dig crates for physical funk, soul and old school R&B records but I have seen Metal records in these places as well, so head for Sounds of The Universe, Sister Ray, Flashback & Rough Trade.

Alright, that wraps it up. Any famous last words?.
Radix malorum est cupiditas. Thanks for your time and thanks to everyone that has taken an interest in our band, you guys RULE! Be sure to follow us on social…


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