“Sacraments Of Descension”, the third full length from Tampa, Florida based blackened Death Metallers PERDITION TEMPLE, is not only the band’s best effort yet, but also one of the strongest albums that came out in 2020 so far. Most of you reading this will probably remember guitarist and sole songwriter Gene Palubicki from the legendary ANGELCORPSE, his previous band, that he recorded and released four pretty successful albums with, before they unfortunately ceased to exist. Since 2009 Gene is already active with PERDITION TEMPLE now, always proving that the musical legacy of ANGELCORPSE is still alive and his current line-up the strongest he ever worked with. We got in touch with Mr. Palubicki for the following interview to find out a bit more about his past and present activities. Enjoy!
Greetings Gene, hope you’re doing fine in these crazy times? Before we talk a bit more about PERDITION TEMPLE, I would like to get a little update on your other musical activities. If I’m not completely mistaken you already decided to split up APOCALYPSE COMMAND back in 2011, but BLASPHEMIC CRUELTY is still alive and kicking these days… Is that correct? So, why did you stop with APOCALYPSE COMMAND after just one demo and the debut full length “Damnation Scythes Of Invincible Abomination”?
“Actually, these days the only active band is PERDITION TEMPLE. Both APOCALYPSE COMMAND and BLASPHEMIC CRUELTY are no longer active at all. And of course ANGELCORPSE has been dead since 2009 (discounting the live reunion gigs in 2016 – 2017). Some great material and ideas were there in all of them, but the main focus now is PERDITION TEMPLE. There is some other project developing with some other musicians currently, yet to be announced, but that will be a ways off yet. I guess after trying out different ways of creating music within this Death Metal genre under different monikers was something I pursed during the times while those projects were active, I’ve now distilled the best of all that I create within this genre into the works of PERDITION TEMPLE’s sound. The new project under development may have whispers of the known sounds from me in it, but there are some new things that would have been quite foreign in the framework of PERDITION TEMPLE or any of the past bands / projects.”
Prior to ANGELCORPSE you already used to be in a band called IMPIETY (not to be mixed up with the better known Singaporean band of the same name), which also featured drummer Aantar Lee Coates, who’s in DIABOLIC now… Was this your very first band ever? You only recorded one demo, “Despondent Ecstacies”, in 1992, so why was the band so shortlived?
“Yeah, there was the 1992 demo that we did. We rehearsed and recorded songs, but the location we all lived at the time (state of Minnesota, USA) was not an area that was any good for live gigs etc… so with nothing really happening, and no label interest at all from the demo, which maybe not too many copies had really been circulated anyways, the band faded away fairly quickly. Aantar moved from there to Maryland state and began works with a band called HORROR OF HORRORS, which lasted a few years and then he ended up back in Tampa, Florida and formed DIABOLIC in the late 90s. Myself from around ’92 – ’95 tried to write new music (which ultimately became the very first ANGELCORPSE songs a bit later), and tried to find suitable musicians to work with but all was going pretty badly in that regard.”
How did you hook up with Aantar, who was already known in the underground through his work with EXMORTIS?
“Aantar contacted me from a suggestion from Pete Sandoval (MORBID ANGEL). There was a prior IMPIETY demo tape from around ’90 – ’91 done with a drum machine that was handed out to people at shows. The MORBID ANGEL tour passed through the state of Minnesota in ’91 and one of the tapes was given to Pete. When he returned home to Tampa, he gave or played the tape to Aantar and then Aantar contacted me to see if we would do a project. So I moved to Tampa, which lasted about 5 months in ’91 until I ran out of money and had to return home to Minnesota, which Aantar came along and we eventually recorded that second IMPIETY demo while there in my hometown in Minnesota.”
According to Metal Archives the band was located in Winona, Minnesota at that time, so did you and Aantar both live there prior to your decision to move to Kansas City?
“Yes, my hometown of Winona, Minnesota. That was where the last activity and recording of that second IMPIETY demo took place. Afterwhich Aantar moved to Maryland and I moved to Kansas City for what was to become the ANGELCORPSE band.”
How did you and Pete Helmkamp exactly got together for ANGELCORPSE? Did you already know each other when he was still in ORDER FROM CHAOS and when did you both decide to leave Kansas City for Tampa, Florida?
“As I mentioned there was the early IMPIETY demo with the drum machine that was handed out at shows in ’91. I attended the ’91 Milwaukee Metal fest that year and gave tapes to some folks there. I think the tape was actually given to the guitar player of ORDER FROM CHAOS, but somehow it ended up in Pete’s possession. A few months later a demo tape of ORDER FROM CHAOS arrived from Pete and we exchanged tapes etc for some years. So, a few years later, when he wrote me a letter stating that his band, ORDER FROM CHAOS was ending, I suggested the possibility that I might move from Minnesota to Missouri and that we might attempt to create a new band. I sent him a tape of the songs I was developing (3 of the 4 songs from what would become the ANGELCORPSE “Goats To Azazel” demo) and he was into it, so I sold a bunch of my personal stuff and made the move to Missouri and we began. A few years down the road when we parted ways with our drummer, John Longstreth, and then had Tony Laureano in the band a lot of tours were getting offered to us and it became a pain to not be able to rehearse since Tony lived in Tampa, Florida. So it came to pass that we decided to leave Missouri and move the whole operation to Tampa, Florida in 1998.”
What really lead to the end of ANGELCORPSE, a band that internationally had become pretty successful with its 4 full length albums?
“Going back to 2009, when the band really ended as a functional creative unit, it was a matter of changes in wants, direction and motivations of us band members that made things come apart. It had become clear that we were no longer seeking the same things, so it was best for it to end, despite that things were somewhat successful at that point.”
How did you get together with Gina Ambrosio and Alex Blume for your new band BLASPHEMIC CRUELTY on drums and bass / vocals respectively then?
“Gina was a drummer living in the Tampa, Florida area at the time of early 2000s. I was looking for people to pursue the BLASPHEMIC CRUELTY project with and got her involved. Alex, I’d know him from our time living in Kansas City, when he was playing with the band NEPENTHE, and later ARES KINGDOM. So we three became the core of that band.”
Did Alex also live in Tampa, Florida at that time? Since he used to be part of ARES KINGDOM and NEPENTHE with former ORDER FROM CHAOS guitarist Chuck Keller, I always thought he was from Kansas City as well?
“Alex has always been living in that Kansas City area. And to this day he is still a full on member of the excellent ARES KINGDOM band (4 full length albums now!).”
With BLASPHEMIC CRUELTY you recorded your debut full length album “Devil’s Mayhem” in 2008 and the EP “Crucible Of The Infernum” in 2015, but no demos prior to that. So, did you still have a contract with Osmose Productions at that time or did Hervé already offer you a new deal without hearing any new material?
“In around 2005 I made a demo with a drum machine of two of the songs that would end up on the first BLASPHEMIC CRUELTY album… crude on a 4 track cassette recorder. Herve (and even Herve’s son) were apparently quite excited by the idea, so a new contract was drawn up specifically for the band. The demo was not something I circulated since the album offer was pretty much instant.”
What made you form PERDITION TEMPLE, just one year after BLASPHEMIC CRUELTY, a band that you additionally still kept going and that musically doesn’t differ too much from PERDITION TEMPLE in my opinion?
“PERDITION TEMPLE was the immediate result after the disbanding of ANGELCORPSE. I reforged the material I had at that time that might have otherwise become future music of the former band, into the new band PERDITION TEMPLE. In my vision, PERDITION TEMPLE is the next evolutionary step from where ANGELCORPSE had ended. Aside from the speed element, the whole songwriting and musical / lyrical process of BLASPHEMIC CRUELTY differed from the way it would be approached for material for PERDITION TEMPLE. Hence the separate projects.”
Did you consider PERDITION TEMPLE more as a solo project of yours at that time, considering that you were responsible for the music, lyrics, guitars, bass and vocals?
“I guess my writing of all the music and lyrics maintains the style and continuity of the PERDITION TEMPLE material from album to album, but I never intended it as some “solo” band. Members have come and gone from the first album and second album periods, and now we have the three of us (Ronnie, Alex and myself) that make up the line-up for the band at present going into the future. All past members have made great contributions in their own ways to the sound of things, but things evolve and change and some members move on.”
How did you get Terry “Warhead” Eleftheriou involved on drums, who’s actually from Greece? Weren’t any suitable musicians available locally in your area?
“After the 2007 ANGELCORPSE album, we went through a series of session drummers for live gigs / tours… it was pretty rough and more often than not was less than ideal. Videos that I see to this day of some of those gigs are cringe worthy with how “off” the songs sounded because of weird performances by these session live guys… sooo, as 2008 – 2009 neared I was in contact with Terry Eleftheriou who I’d heard on the first album from EMBRACE OF THORNS, and suggested the idea of attempting to work together if even abroad. There was talk for awhile about his moving to the USA, but when that did not ultimately work out, and then ANGELCORPSE was left for dead again, he and I rolled right into the new music under the new moniker and since the material was no longer bound to the previous bands “rules”, we were able to make it more its own thing. And obviously with myself doing vocals / bass / lyrics there were so many clear differences from the previous band. Of course as time went on into the next few years, and Terry not being able to move to USA, prevented the band from doing live shows. So I needed then to find a drummer here in the USA and here in the Tampa area I eventually came across Ronnie Parmer who has now been part of the band since 2011.”
I suppose you and Terry never rehearsed or played live together and just sent files back and forth that you recorded, didn’t you?
“Yeah, Terry and I exchanged audio files to work on the material.”
Also with PERDITION TEMPLE you were able to release your debut full length “Edict Of The Antichrist Elect” via Osmose Productions in 2010 on CD and 12″ vinyl, so I suppose the relationship with the label must have been pretty good at that point, right?
“Yeah, with Osmose. Despite their upset that ANGELCORPSE had ended a second time, the relations with Osmose were still good, and even though having not been directly linked to the label since 2014, relations are still quite good!”
What exactly happened to PERDITION TEMPLE after the release of that album? It took you four years to return with a new vinyl 7″ EP, “Sovereign Of The Desolate”, which surprisingly wasn’t released through Osmose anymore, but Hells Headbangers instead and featured a full band line-up for the first time…
“I never try to force the creation of new material. Yes, for sure the fact that there was not a complete line-up for the band until around 2013 may have staggered some things from happening sooner also. But I like to let the evolution of new material take a very natural path, nothing forced or rushed. For the second album, “The Tempter’s Victorious”, I really wanted to push into some new territory with the riffs and songs to separate that much further from the past of the old ANGELCORPSE sound, and further refine the identity of PERDITION TEMPLE as its own entity entirely. So that might have had a bit to do with staggering things from a faster release. And yes, the 2014 EP and that second full length were the bands first outings on the new label, Hells Headbangers. It was not a bad break from Osmose, but for various reasons both myself and Hervé agreed the band should maybe move to an American label. Hells Headbangers was an excellent choice for us. They have a vast network and their products are well distributed, and their contract is very fair and to the point to make things all the easier.”
On that EP you were able to work together with a bunch of musicians, that all played or would play in pretty wellknown underground bands before or after: Ron Parmer (drums – MALEVOLENT CREATION, BRUTALITY, AMON), Bill Taylor (guitars – IMMOLATION, ACHERON, FELDGRAU), Gabriel Gozainy (bass – AMON) and session vocalist Chris Tellez (aka Impurath) from BLACK WITCHERY… How did you get this line-up together and was it a challenge for you to work with so many outside musicians for a change?
“Sometime around 2012, Bill Taylor took an interest to join the band as second guitars, and the live vocalist I had at the time had left, Collin Andrews (R.I.P.), and Chris (Impurath) from BLACK WITCHERY had offered maybe to do some backing vocals on whatever the new album was going to be, so I asked if he wanted to do the whole thing, as I’ve always been a fan of his works with BLACK WITCHERY. He got on board for that. And Gabriel on bass was a really talented bassist with flying fingers that added some insane bass lines to the material on that second album, “The Tempter’s Victorious”… but as I said for various reasons members choose to depart or leave and things move on with new people.”
What was the reason for the label change, from Osmose Productions to Hells Headbangers at that point?
“On my side, I kept wanting some connection with an American label, either direct or by a license deal etc… From Osmose side, they had to delegate which bands to move forward with and being PERDITION TEMPLE was a relatively new band, it was felt best for us to continue with a new label that was USA based, and now that has been the case since 2014 with Hells Headbangers.”
That EP just featured one new PERDITION TEMPLE track, which was the title track ‘Sovereign Of The Desolate’, and the BLASPHEMY cover ‘Weltering In Blood’… Was that EP just meant to be a teaser for the upcoming album, so that people would know that PERDITION TEMPLE was still alive? Did you record both songs in the same session as the material which ended up on the second album, “The Tempter’s Victorious” that came out in 2015? At least the line-up was still the same on the album, so…
“Yeah, the EP was recorded at the same time, and even mixed at the same time, but for the EP there were a few things we did differently with the mix for a bit of a changed sound. For sure it was a great way to introduce the sound of the band with the new members ahead of the full length release that followed just some months later.”
How do you judge “The Tempter’s Victorious” in retrospect, compared to the other PERDITION TEMPLE releases? To me it somehow was your weakest release and I was wondering if the decision to work with so many members maybe lead to this result. In Germany we have the saying “Viele Köche verderben den Brei”, which translated pretty much means “too many cooks spoil the broth”… Would you agree to this?
“In retrospect, maybe I tried too much to push into so much more complicated patterns than I’d been known for and may make some songs seem difficult to get your head around. Which can be good or bad in certain ways. Every album I’ve ever done in my career I’ve later felt there were things that could have been done different / better etc. I don’t dwell on that. It was the best that my mind and capabilities were able to conceive at that time. However I feel the album contains some of my personal favorite songs I’ve ever created like ‘Goddess In Death’, ‘Scythes Of Antichrist’ or the title track ‘The Tempter’s Victorious’. Songs which for sure will always be as part of the live set for the future (once the world turns back on and folks let go of this plague hysteria absurdity). For the recording process with all the added members, sure it created some challenges also. The material is very dense and many parts to the songs, so to get every member’s performances to gel as a unit can be a task at times, but again it was the best we were able to create at that point in time and I don’t dwell on these sort of petty things now.”
In 2018 Hells Headbangers re-released “The Tempter’s Victorious” as a double CD edition, which additionally features pre-production versions of the album and EP tracks with you on vocals… Why did you work with a session vocalist for the original album at that time anyway? I mean your vocal delivery has always been very strong, so I never really understood that…?
“Well, at the time of the first and even second album I still had no aspiration to vocal and guitars live, so I felt it was ideal to have a vocalist involved that would be the vocalist fans would see live also. The 2 CD edition is a way of making the bridge over the first album, through the second into the new third album with a trace of more uniform continuity with my vocals existing on a version of all three albums and EP tracks also. As of last year with the touring we did with CANNIBAL CORPSE I have actually begun to partake in live vocal duties shared with Alex. So now, it makes complete sense that I do the vocals on the recorded albums as well, and for future live gigs etc the trade off between Alex and I vocally should only get more dynamic in great ways. Sort of like the very old KREATOR stuff where the guitarist and drummer both did a heavy share of the vocals. That kind of thing, which was not so common then, and even today is not so common in that approach.”
Also in 2018 the rather infamous Metal Bastard Enterprises label released a “Tribute To Blasphemy” split 12″, which featured your BLASPHEMY cover ‘Weltering In Blood’ (from the EP) plus contributions from IMPIETY, BLASPHEMOUS NOISE TORMENT, BLASPHEMOPHAGHER, THE SATAN’S SCOURGE and HEATHEN / LIFECODE… How much input did you have in this release?
“I completely disown any connection to that compilation. Never got any band copies, and I do not know one person on earth who actually has that release. And I can only imagine the shit audio they used, if even released, was taken from YouTube or from the vinyl itself, as they were never supplied pro audio from me. All the songs that are listed as part of that were pre-exisitng tracks from all the listed bands discographies. And wasn’t that the same label that tried to release some completely fake DEFECATION 7″ EP and were outed by the actual band members? I think so, as I recall the story popping up a few years ago on social media.”
Earlier this year you finally returned with your third and (to me) best album so far, “Sacraments Of Descension”… The production is killer, really heavy and crushing and also the songwriting has improved a lot, without changing too much of your wellknown trademarks… Why did it took you so long to finish it, what can you tell us about the origin of the album in general, the new band members and what happened to the “The Tempter’s Victorious” line-up?
“I think if PERDITION TEMPLE’s productivity had not been interrupted by those ANGELCORPSE live reunion gigs through 2016 – 2017 that a new record might have materialized sooner. Either way, I let the music guide itself naturally and I am probably more satisfied with the overall album sound, songs, performances than I have ever been with previous albums from any of my past bands’ histories. Narrowing it down to just the three of us members involved has made things that much more tight and sensible for writing and performances live. Also, the work Jarrett Pritchard did for the mixing and mastering was a great contribution as well! I think I had evolved with this album’s collection of songs by finding the best balance of my oldest influences to blend with my most current motivations for writing. The right amount of old and new sounds. Lyrically too, as I try to have subjects that could have easily been as much from a VENOM album from ’82 as it could be from a subject on my last album. Here in 2020 we are nearring almost 40 years of bands and material created within the Speed and Death Metal genre, so I try to create songs that have an energy and feeling that they might fit into any one of those decades of bands sounds. As I said earlier about members coming and going, it happens. Alex was a great new addition to this, since we’d worked together previously on the BLASPHEMIC CRUELTY material.”
How active has PERDITION TEMPLE been on the live front already and will there be shows in support of the album when this fucking pandemic is finally over?
“There were plans for stuff that would have even managed to get PERDITION TEMPLE to Europe for the first time this year, but with this pandemic hysteria it all has been sidelined. But for sure once the world is alive again, will resume in support of the new album. Actually with all the home time now with lockdowns, and having to work from home for my regular job, I’ve used the time quite constructively to create much new music for a fourth full length PERDITION TEMPLE album and beyond! So for certain it will not be five years until the next PERDITION TEMPLE album… haha! In addition I’ve been creating music for another as yet unannounced new project which includes some other stellar musicians who are quite surely known to all extreme Metal fans, and should make for some great new stuff down the road!”
Ok Gene, thank you so much for taking the time. All the best for you and your musical activities. I’ll leave the closing words to you.
“Massive thanks for the great support Frank! All the best in these insane times!”
Live pics: Rev Aaron, Necroblanca Photography (first 4)
Interview: Frank Stöver