After a longer period of silence, Tampa, Florida based Death Metallers DIABOLIC are finally back with a new album. “Mausoleum Of The Unholy Ghost” was originally released digital only via Witchhunter Records in late March of 2020, but luckily French Tentacles Industries also made it available on CD, vinyl and cassette in June as well. The album features 8 tracks of brutal Death Metal, in the typical blasting DIABOLIC Florida Death Metal style and easily proves that the band still has a lot of relevance in the international underground scene after so many years. Time to hook up with DIABOLIC founder / drummer Aantar Lee Coates again to get some fresh, first hand information…
Aantar, “Mausoleum Of The Unholy Ghost” is the first DIABOLIC album in 10 years and the direct follow-up to “Excisions Of Exorcisms” from 2010, so I was wondering if the band was just on hold in all those years or if you maybe even had split-up for a while?
“Frank, that’s a good question. DIABOLIC was never on hold. We recorded a single, so… We stayed busy headlining festivals, we where invited to Las Vegas / Tampa… keeping our focus on the new album. Before Jeff passed we where invited to play a few concerts again with CANNIBAL CORPSE. We were asked to replace 1349 because of a volcano eruption. We made it to the Crazy Donky in New York, then returned home to Tampa, Florida, USA. The US Death Metal capital the world!!!!”
You just mentioned it and fans of DIABOLIC most certainly will know that your guitarist Jeff Parrish unfortunately died of a heart attack in 2013, so I suppose that tragic event had a big influence on the long break, especially since your other guitarist Kelly McLauchlin also went back to his old band PESSIMIST around that time…
“Jeff’s untimely death was totally unexpected. Then my daughter was born. I kept writing tracks, we kept busy recording a single titled ‘Lucifer Induced’, released only as an extra track on the vinyl edition of “City Of The Dead” (released via Repulsive Echo Records in 2014 – Frank), played shows here in Florida, opening for TERRORIZER and HELLWITCH. Also playing the Las Vegas Metal fest 2019 and 2017.”
If I’m not completely mistaken, it must have been sometime in 2019 when you finally started to write new material again and you even recorded a demo with six of the eight tracks that later appeared on the new album… So, who was the driving force in all this and how did things develop from there?
“The demo was recorded back in 2014, so the driving force (Paul Ouellette and I) build up a lot of pressure, because Paul and I wrote these songs and couldn’t find the right people to record with.”
How much input did new guitarists Matt Barnes and Matt Roberts have on the songwriting and will they remain just session members or is there a chance that they might join DIABOLIC full time?
“Matt Barnes is full time MONSTROSITY. He added his ideas, so I split the writing 50/50. Matt Roberts is now a full DIABOLIC member.”
“Mausoleum Of The Unholy Ghost” was originally only released digitally via Witchhunter Records in March of this year… what was the reason for that? Didn’t you find a new label at the time yet that was willing to release it on CD and / or vinyl? And when and how did you finally hook up with Tentacles Industries for those formats?
“I started Witchhunter Records because no record label would sign us from the 2014 demo. So, instead of doing nothing I did this. Because I released “Mausoleum Of The Unholy Ghost” through Witchhunter Records, USA, Tentacles Industries noticed what we are serious.”
In early 2020 you did a remix of the last DIABOLIC album “Excisions Of Exorcisms”, which is available digitally on Bandcamp and Witchhunter Records. What made you do so and will there also be a physical version of it in the future as well?
“We never received any royalties or statements over the past 10 years. Stopping Mike Riddick from continuing to ripping us off is the goal. No digital sales reports, not answering emails from Deathgasm Records. Another reason I started Witchhunter Records. The re-mix sounds better anyway, so now the fans have a fresh new crushing production. We look forward to re-releasing it soon.”
In 2003 DIABOLIC guitarist Jerry Mortellaro and bassplayer / vocalist Paul Ouellette were replaced by Eric Hersemann and Robert Cardenes respectively for European shows (legal matters prevented both from European tours)… According to Metal Archives it was also decided during this tour that you should be fired from DIABOLIC… what exactly happened at that time?
“I couldn’t be fired from DIABOLIC, because it’s my band and I wasn’t a pay for hire drummer. I never got payed to play, so I could never be fired. This is what happened. I got back from Europe and Olympic Records advised me I was replaced by some guy that got deported right after they recorded the snake album (“Infinity Through Purification” – Frank). I formed UNHOLY GHOST, played shows and recorded a demo and sent it to Century Media. Marco Barbieri signed us to Century Media and gave us a new contract and budget to record “Torrential Reign”. The BLASTMASTERS “Twisted Metal” album was awesome, but after talking to Lee Harrison he motivated me to start using the name DIABOLIC, because the band was not touring and abandon the name. I decided to reclaim my band name in 2005 and released DIABOLIC’s “Chaos In Hell” and “Possessed By Death”.”
What really happened to DIABOLIC around the time of the “Vengeance Ascending”album? It seems there where legal differences between your guitarist Brian Malone and the rest of the band, since he continued on with DIABOLIC, with a completely revamped line-up, while Paul, Jerry and yourself recruited PESSIMIST’s Kelly Mclauchlin and returned as UNHOLY GHOST. Maybe you can tell us a bit more about all this?
“Like I said, I got back from Europe and I was out of the band. I called Kelly and he flew down to Tampa. We formed UNHOLY GHOST. It was very fast. We signed to Century Media after promoting the demo to radio stations, fanzines, playing live…”
I was actually very surprised to see Edwin Webb (who already used to be part of DIABOLIC on your 1989 debut album “Supreme Evil”) in the “Vengeance Ascending” line-up on bass and vocals. Did you part ways with him on bad terms back then? How did you feel about it that he was involved in a version of DIABOLIC without you?
“I was very busy in UNHOLY GHOST, so I wished him well.”
All legal and personal shit aside: what do you think of “Vengeance Ascending” just from a musical point of view?
“Looking back I can’t wait for the re-mix!!!” (Hmm… are we really talking about the same album here? – Frank)
With UNHOLY GHOST you released the “Torrential Reign” album in 2004 and the 3-song demo a year before… Would you say that UNHOLY GHOST was basically DIABOLIC under a different name or did you also have a different approach when you wrote songs for UNHOLY GHOST as opposed to DIABOLIC?
“No, not really… we kept the same formula.”
For the “Torrential Reign” album you even managed to work with Century Media Records, but it seems you still weren’t really happy with UNHOLY GHOST nevertheless since a follow-up release never materialized. What went wrong at that part of your career from your point of view?
“No label support. Century Media was sold to Sony and most bands were dropped.”
In 2017 a UNHOLY GHOST split CD with SERPENT SON was released digitally, which featured the “Demo 666” from SERPENT SON, but where are the four UNHOLY GHOST songs from that were used for it?
“That is the demo we sent to Century Media to get signed.”
In 2006 and 2007 you finally returned as DIABOLIC and released two digital EPs, “Possessed By Death” and “Chaos In Hell”… Why was Paul not involved on bass / vocals on the “Possessed By Death” EP yet and what made you work with Kelly Mclauchlin (guitars), R.J. Reinagle (guitars) and Jesse Jolly (vocals, bass)?
“Transions. We were coming from BLASTMASTERS back to DIABOLIC.”
A year later both EPs were released together on CD via Deathgasm Records as “Chaos In Hell / Possessed By Death”. Did you already sign a deal with Deathgasm for a new full length at that time or was it for this split CD release only at first?
“The split CD “Possessed By Death / Chaos In Hell” was first, then we signed the full contract with Deathgasm Records.”
With the line-up of the “Possessed By Death” EP you also released the “Twisted Metal” album via Deathgasm as BLASTMASTERS in 2008… According to Metal Archives the reformed DIABOLIC line-up had already recorded a full-length album entitled “Shellfire And Tombstones” in 2006, that remained unreleased due to legal issues concerning the ownership of the band’s name. It is supposed to be the BLASTMASTERS debut full-length with omitted / added songs and some re-recorded guitar solos… Is that all true?
“As you know ‘Shellfire And Tombstones’ is a track off of the BLASTMASTERS “Twisted Metal” album. We just changed the title… nothing illegal going on. No legal fights in courts.”
Was the line-up on the 2003 BLASTMASTERS 3-song demo already the same as on the “Twisted Metal” album? Why did you change the album title from “Shellfire And Tombstones” to “Twisted Metal”?
“I was playing the “Twisted Metal” video game over at Trey’s place and thought it would fit better for that project. The demo was with Jessie, RJ and I… Jeff Parrish stepped in on the full album “Twisted Metal”.”
In 2019 a very limited split CD (200 copies) of DIABOLIC with COMATOSE (a Death Metal band from the Philippines), entitled “The Infamous Legacy”, was released via Vetus Diaboli Productions… Six of the DIABOLIC songs on there are demo versions of songs that made it on your new album “Mausoleum Of The Unholy Ghost”, but what about ‘Lucifer Induced’? Is that the song from 2013 that was also used for the vinyl re-release of your “City Of The Dead” demo via Repulsive Echo in 2014? And what about ‘Sadistic God Useless Savior’? Will you ever re-record that again in the future?
“‘Lucifer Induced’ is a track that’s more for the hardcore DIABOLIC fan. We won’t be re-releasing it anytime soon. We still have a number of unreleased songs locked and loaded in the chamber ready to record. Will keep you posted.”
Do you personally still follow the careers of other old Death Metal bands from the US, like MORBID ANGEL, NOCTURNUS, MASSACRE, OBITUARY, DEICIDE etc.? What’s your opinion on their latest albums? Do you think they all still live up to their almighty musical legacy?
“TERRORIZER’s new albums are awesome, MORBID ANGEL’s new album is super heavy, OBITUARY is still killing it and DEICIDE will always be a force we have great respect for, good friends for many years. Mike and NOCTURNUS is still making waves and Kam Lee is still killing it with MASSACRE!!!”
With a nickname like “Blastmaster”and all the fast songs on the DIABOLIC albums it’s pretty obvious that you like to play the drums at high speed. Which drummers had the biggest influence on your playing in that respect and have you ever noticed that it’s getting more and more difficult to play that way when you get older?
“Dave Lombardo, Paul Bostaph, Lars Ulrich, Pete Sandoval, Gene Hoglan, Away from VOIVOD, Lee Harrison and Steve Asheim are my biggest influences. For me it gets easier to play, just gotta keep healthy eat fresh foods.”
What is more challenging for you as a drummer, the really fast parts or slow complex parts?
“It depends on the song. I think slow double bass drumming can be challenging sometimes. Playing fast is very challenging… so when I think about it, none of my songs are easy to play.”
Is DIABOLIC still rehearsing the old school way, where you all get together in a rehearsal room and play the songs together as a full band or do you all practice on your own and just get together when shows are coming up?
“We don’t have our band house anymore. We were forced to record the demo at my apartment. The practice place where all the bands played stopped allowing bands to play music. Even in a house the neighbors complain and call the police. The one place we can play is $300 a month or they charge to practice by the hour. So, I just have a home studio… it’s better than nothing!!!”
Talking of shows… Are there any shows / tours planned in support of “Mausoleum Of The Unholy Ghost”as soon as this annoying pandemic is finally over?
“We all want to play live, so it will be fun when it happens.”
You have already recorded and released a lot of cover songs with DIABOLIC over the years: ‘Killing Fields’ and ‘Gemini’ (SLAYER), ‘Buried Alive’ (VENOM), ‘Visions From The Darkside’ and ‘Rapture’ (MORBID ANGEL), ‘The God That Failed’ (METALLICA), ‘Under The Guillotine’ (KREATOR), ‘Sepulchral Voice’ (SODOM), ‘The Ritual’ (DESTRUCTION) and ‘No Will To Live’ (POSSESSED)… Did you ever play any of those songs live and will there be more covers in the future as well maybe?
“When we are on tour we play our music. On tour we normally get 20-30 min sets, so we want to play our music, but I think it would be fun if we had more time.”
Ok Aantar, that’s about it. Thanks for taking the time and all the best to you you and DIABOLIC. I’ll leave the closing words to you.
“Thanks for your support over the years Frank and all at Voices From The Darkside that enjoy our style of Death Metal! Keep headbanging at blasphemous speeds!!!!”
Live pics (first 3): Rev Aaron