Purity… the dismal bleakness produced by Australia’s IGNIVOMOUS is nothing less than Death Metal purity. On their first demo, "Path Of Attrition", IGNIVOMOUS play darkened Death Metal in the traditional style so elemental that it sounds as if they have not listened to a new record since 1992. And yet, the members of IGNIVOMOUS are well-respected veterans of the Australian scene who have been involved in a broad range of bands and solo projects. Ultimately, this is perhaps what separates IGNIVOMOUS from other less convincing Death Metal bands… although they collectively possess a thorough understanding of music in a broad sense, when they unite as IGNIVOMOUS they discard all that is extraneous and unnecessary and instead channel their efforts to produce the some of the most focused and abysmally brutal Death Metal ever unleashed. Last year IGNIVOMOUS and NWN! Productions united to release the "Path Of Attrition" demo as a 12" MLP and are currently in the process of releasing a new 7" even more extreme than the demo. Even after only two releases it is already apparent that IGNIVOMOUS are going to continue to deliver dark Death Metal that explores in detail the very core of the genre. Thank you to bassist and vocalist, Jael Edwards, for taking the time to expose me to the impenetrable darkness that shrouds IGNIVOMOUS.
First let me say that, since the release of the "Path Of Attrition" demo, I have spent countless hours devoted to that recording. With so much disposable music being released these days, it’s refreshing to find a release (and a demo, no less) that can draw the listener in and inspire repeated listening. In addition to IGNIVOMOUS, there seems to be quite a few new bands that have chosen to rejuvenate the genre of classic Death Metal. What prompted IGNIVOMOUS to select this particular element of the left hand path?
"Hails Jason! First and foremost we chose to pursue this style because we are big fans of the late 80s – early 90s Death Metal movement. Being all of a similar age (late 20s – early 30s), the original bands made a huge impact on us when we were quite young and I guess that’s stuck with us. The music of that time was so dynamic and pushed so many boundaries, although in fairness I’d also add that there have been releases after that point which also captured the same spirit. In another way, the style we play represents a common ground between our personal influences, which we all agree on, and which comes forth in a pretty organic and unforced way. It’s not something we agonize over – put the four of us in a room and what happens just sounds like IGNIVOMOUS!"
I’m sorry to ask this generic question, but since you are a relatively new band, many people may want to know the origins of IGNIVOMOUS. Can you elaborate on the genesis of this project and how each of the members were summoned to participate?
"The beginnings of IGNIVOMOUS were just as prosaic as any other band really. At the time (mid 2006) Chris had just finished the most recent ABOMINATOR album (which I’ll add is killer!!!) and that project was in a quiet phase. At the time he was doing a lot of session work but not too much that he had a really active part in writing for. Rodney’s old band Excarnated had called it a day after a long time, and my previous project Accursed had wound down and aside from some desultory solo work I was at a loose end. We were at a local gig, talking over a beer or several and the idea came up of booking a rehearsal room and seeing what came up. So the next weekend we got together and wrote ‘Bloodshrines’ – which was really positive in that we managed to get something done without wanting to strangle each other or turning out some turgid half-arsed crap. Thoughts then turned to a second guitarist, and as Sean was and is a good mate of ours, and as I’d been working on a Black / Doom project called Exercitus with him for a few months before and knew he was up to the challenge, we asked him to join. 3 months later we entered the studio and recorded the demo."
Can you explain the source of the band name?
"The name is an archaic one meaning "vomiting fire". Something Chris had in mind, but to me it conjures up images of belching flames and fury on the earth. Fairly fitting I think…"
Are there any current bands with which you feel an especially strong musical kinship? Are you in contact with any of these bands and do you have any plans to collaborate with them in the future (e.g. tours, split releases, etc)?
"Musically there are certainly quite a few bands we feel a strong affinity towards. But aside from locals, who we cross paths with fairly regularly, we aren’t the types to pester others with lots of letters and e-mails and such. With a few more releases under our belts that may change, but currently it just doesn’t really stack up to proposition more established bands in that way. Locally, we are working on a split with Tzun Tzu and a few other Australian Bands which will be out mid 2008 I believe."
I understand that each of the members of IGNIVOMOUS are also involved in other projects. Can you describe some of your collective work outside of IGNIVOMOUS? How do you apportion your time spent working on all of your various endeavors?
"We have pretty close links with Urgrund as both Chris and Sean played on the new album, although Sean was there in a session capacity. That aside they’re good friends of ours anyway. Chris seems to have scaled back his involvement in outside projects other than Urgrund and concentrated on IGNIVOMOUS – he was formerly drumming for Denouncement Pyre and helping out a few other demo-level bands on a temporary / session basis. Sean and I sporadically work on Exercitus, which is quite keyboard-heavy Black Doom stuff along the lines of old Katatonia, Bethlehem, etc. He also does a solo Noise / Grind project called ZERO which is pretty disturbing. Outside of IGNIVOMOUS, I’m involved in the Martial Industrial, Dark Ambient and Power Electronics side of things through a project I’ve been doing for nearly 10 years called Nothinghunger. Although it takes me forever to get around to releasing things, I do sporadic gigs here in Australia and New Zealand every now and then."
Anyone who follows underground Metal has noticed that Australia seems to be carrying the torch in the underground recently. While there are plenty of countries that continuously produce a lot of Metal, Australia has recently been producing a lot of exceptionally good Metal. Moreover, the output from down under has been extremely varied in terms of the styles of Metal that are being produced. What is it about this continent that is so conducive to good Metal (other than the fact that it was originally a colony of criminals)?
"I’m actually reminded of a conversation we had a few months back on this subject, the crux of which was "every country has its shitty clone bands – why would anyone overseas care about ours?" In that sense the extreme isolation of Australia is a blessing in disguise in that anyone offshore really only gets to hear the top 10% who have the combination of talent and persistence to come to their attention. There is just as much rubbish which comes up here as anywhere else – it’s just lucky in a way that there are not labels to push it!"
Although the Australian scene is clearly very diverse, do you feel there is some element that is inherently Australian that runs through most of the music that is being produced in the underground Metal scene there?
"I think you could say that. There is a strand of Australian culture which is very down to earth and resists pretension – if you are being a wanker in Australia it’s fairly inevitable that someone will tell you so to your face. So I think that gives rise to the stripped-down, raw aspect which characterizes the Australian scene – pompous keyboards and makeup, rockstar attitudes just don’t fly here!"
How are the local scenes in Australia? Are the shows as mayhemic as one would imagine considering all of the talent that is flourishing in the region?
"The local scene is fairly underground, despite there being a lot going on. Shows are pretty few and far between – it’s a really long way to travel between cities so it’s not all that common for interstate acts to come down. But when they do happen they are pretty high-energy – lots of drinking and headbanging and general hell-raising! The whole "fire at will" ethos of a lot of Aussie bands lends itself well to the live arena."
IGNIVOMOUS’ music is seemingly devoid of all non Death Metal influences. You have created a very pure record, yet the members of IGNIVOMOUS all seem to be influenced by other strains of Metal and even other genres of music altogether. Why strive to create such a distilled style of music?
"As I said before, it’s mostly an agreement between us about what feels natural and right for us to play – and for the most part unspoken. Going beyond that, we play the type of music we would want to listen to if it turned up in the mailbox one day from someone we had never heard of – brutal, hard and executed with genuine passion and commitment. As an analogy in response to your question – one day I might enjoy drinking scotch, another day beer, another day a nice red wine. All are good in themselves, but if you put them all in a big glass and try to drink it, it tastes like shit and you feel sick. Ultimately, some things work and some don’t, and the passage of time has shown that too many bands have failed by confusing randomness with creativity. In a way, it’s more of a challenge to write something of worth within established boundaries than to take an "open season" approach. While the latter may hold some novelty for a limited time, I find that I get the impression that the bands concerned often are "jack of all trades, master of none"."
Can you explain the method of songwriting employed by IGNIVOMOUS? Is the writing process generally collective or does one member often craft the song on his own?
"For the most part we start with a collection of riffs that one or several of us has come up with, select which ones feel natural played together, then collectively come up with a sense of the arrangement. For such a collaborative writing process it works very smoothly as I think we are very much on the same level when it comes to what we want to achieve. Once this part is done, I will write lyrics for the track and the 2 guitarists will elaborate with leads and solo’s for the track and we’re done."
How do you record your material? Do you use digital or analog equipment for the creation of your deadly hymns?
"For reasons of cost, we use digital. What we tend to do is track everything digitally then run a tape-emulator plug-in across the final mix. In mastering we try and avoid the hyper-compressed sound which full digital production gives – if you spend the time getting the mix right it’s not nessecarry and the final master sounds much better. That and we absolutely do not use triggers!!!"
Please describe what an IGNIVOMOUS live ritual entails? How often do you desecrate the stage and what response do you receive from those in attendance? Do you have plans to tour anytime soon?
"We don’t play live often at all, which has been a conscious decision. When we do, its pretty much just plug in and hammer away! We don’t want to be one of those bands who do a show every month in our hometown – that would get old very quickly and the impact would be diluted. So we aim to play 4-5 times a year or so depending on what else is in the works. We will be playing a show mid February with gospel of the Horns and another one in April with Urgrund, Gospel of the horns and Portal which should be a really intense gig! After that, its heads down in the studio working on the full-length."
Although your influences are readily apparent to anyone who is familiar with Death Metal, perhaps you can elaborate on the two or three albums that you feel were indispensable to your understanding of the music you create with IGNIVOMOUS.
"Incantation – "Onward To Golgotha": I think this one’s fairly obvious, but it’s a huge influence on all of us and one of the darkest pieces of music ever recorded. Darkthrone – "Soulside Journey": criminally underrated, but one of the most technical albums which somehow comes off sounding unforced and natural. And dark as fucking coals! Dismember – "Like An Ever-Flowing Stream": a total classic. Bolt Thrower – "Realm Of Chaos": heavier than collapsing stars. Added to that I’m a big Warhammer 40,000 fan, so I think this was a really great record."
Can you describe the source of inspiration for the lyrical component of IGNIVOMOUS? Who writes the lyrics and what concepts are you trying to convey lyrically?
"Up to this point I’ve written 90% of the lyrics for the band. For the most part they are based on dreams, visions and imaginings of the apocalypse – both on an external and internal level. The collapse of ordered systems under the creative possibilities of chaos – both in the outer world and within the individual consciousness."
Is IGNIVOMOUS as a collective group or as individual members influenced by any external ideologies or philosophies? Do you see Metal as an appropriate vehicle to espouse one’s personal philosophy, religious (or anti-religious) perspective, or political stance?
"Firstly, it’s quite obvious that IGNIVOMOUS is not a political band in any sense – any thoughts or opinions which the members of the band may have are their own and we certainly don’t include them in the music, or even discuss them for the most part. I think the common consensus between us is extremely cynical on that front – politics is a sewer none of us is very keen to jump into and swim around! As for other bands, they can sing about whatever they like. Having a foot in both the Metal and Martial Industrial / Neofolk etc scenes, I certainly listen to a lot of stuff which could be described as "politically dubious" if you were of a mind to do so. But Metal is a style of music which should reflect the interests and outlook of its creator, and if that’s what they want to do, well it’s a free-market on ideas and I think censorship is a much worse option than letting people damn themselves with their own stupidity. For the most part though, I think overt preachiness in music, be it about religion or politics or vegetarianism or whatever, is just a way of aligning yourself with an already-established demographic whose powers of discernment are compromised by their fanaticism. It certainly seems to be the case with the NSBM scene."
In the decade or so since raw Black Metal became so fashionable, we’ve seen an apparently endless and mechanistic onslaught of generic Black Metal releases that contribute absolutely nothing to the evolution of the music. In the past few years there seems to be a slew of new crossover-style Thrash bands that similarly have nothing new to offer. Do you feel that, as Death Metal’s popularity begins to undergo resurgence, there may be a similar effect? How does a band simultaneously pay homage to the music they worship while not degenerating into a scene full of disposable, generic shit?
"I hope not, but then I’m as bit of a pessimist when it comes to human endeavors so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if that’s the way it plays out. That being said, there is a huge difference between acknowledging your influences and building on them to create an individual vision, and slavishly imitating what came before. A lot of that may be a factor of age and experience – the ability to differentiate between being influenced and being a clone could be said to be linked with having the confidence which comes from having a wider context to draw on and a greater understanding of what will be satisfying for you as a creative person. To simply copy what came before would be a waste of time, but to filter what you love about the past through the nexus of your own individual experiences and take on things is how most of the greatest art is created in my opinion."
After producing one of the best demos released in years and a 7" that is certain to be regarded as a classic in the genre, what does the future hold for IGNIVOMOUS? Do you see IGNIVOMOUS’ style evolving into new areas or do you anticipate that you will stay committed to the direction that you’ve already begun to explore?
"Further to the above question, the tracks we have written for the full length I can say with total certainty represent a band which has really found its voice. The foundations built up on the demo and 7" have allowed us to create something which, while being true to our influences, is 100% our own vision of dark Death Metal. All the same elements are there, but the cohesion and dynamics of the tracks goes beyond what we’ve done up to this point. So on that level, what to expect is not any sort of radical divergence, but more a culmination of the work up to this point."
"Thank you for the perceptive questions, and thanks to everyone who has supported IGNIVOMOUS to date!"