By Sarah Kitteringham
CALGARY — The first time BeatRoute interviewed Edmonton’s Begrime Exemious in July 2013, it was shortly after being introduced to the band’s venomous style of crusty death metal. At the time, their release pace was impressive; they were on the verge of releasing yet another 7-inch via the now defunct Fuel Injected Records and touring.
To this day, the mantra of work hard, play harder has remained unchanged, meaning their sound has been honed for the better and their notoriety has increased dramatically.
This is particularly evident on their third full-length; the Dark Descent Records release The Enslavement Conquest. Released in March of this year, the 10-track rager has groovy interludes and effortless jackhammer fills alongside dramatically variant pacing, and features considerably better production than previous efforts. In addition, there is a decreased emphasis on their black metal roots, giving it a (dare I say) melodic death metal edge.
Unlike on their previous full-length Visions of the Scourge, Enslavement… features guitarist Derek Orthner on double duty as provider of growls and howls. Alongside second guitarist F. Thibaudeau, the two provide a dual vocal assault “much like Carcass.”
Given that our first conversation went swimmingly – resulting in Orthner hilariously and infamously declaring, “everyone is an asshole” – we figured we should let his words be printed as is again this time around, only editing for length.
BeatRoute: To start, it sounds like a voice box or some sort of distortion voice effect in the beginning of “Conscription Woes,” the fifth track on the album. What the heck is that?
Derek Orthner: Those are actually guitar leads with some heavy wah pedal.
BR: In terms of an effect, were you attempting to create some atmosphere, or was it something you were just trying out?
DO: It just felt natural to put some sort of Bolt Thrower-esque lead there, and to me it feels like the impending fate of being conscripted for war as it squeezes onto your mental awareness.
BR: In terms of that being a lyrical choice, why? That’s not a reality we know anymore… and by “we” I mean us as privileged Canadians.
DO: I based it off of the novel The Forever War (1974) by Joe Haldeman. In it, Earth is engaging in a war with alien species, deep in the universe. They draft all the strongest and most intelligent humans for the battle, who become prime war machines. However, because the best human resources have all been devoted to war, civilization on Earth regresses as a whole, and when the soldiers return, they feel like they no longer belong, and thus are forever committed to war.
BR: Are much of your lyrics based on science fiction on this album?
DO: This is the first [full-length] album that I’ve been the vocalist on [after he sang on the January 2015 split release with Flash Out], and of course with that I had to think of lyrical themes I wanted to write about. Our lyrics have always been rooted in horror, but coming more from morbid viewpoint. I wanted to keep that theme of horror, but since I read a lot of sci-fi novels, they took on topics like warfare and dystopian societies. For example, [the third track] “Transcendence” is based off of [the 1974 novel] Flow My Tears, the Police Man Said by Philip K. Dick, and it’s about a drug-induced reality in a police state. [Track six] “Subconscious Nemesis” was influenced by the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, and is about mind control.
BR: Aside from that, the production on this album is just WAY better than on previous material – is that something you guys were consciously working towards?
DO: Absolutely. When I mixed [the band’s 2012 full-length] Visions of the Scourge, I was very inexperienced. In the four years between, I spent as much time as possible recording my friends’ bands, side projects, and of course, the handful of shorter Begrime releases we did. We’re DIY guys, so it’s never going to sound over-produced and sterile. That being said, we’re always learning and trying new things to make our sound leave a heavier mark.
BR: Musically, you guys seem to have had a vision since day one – even the music on your debut Impending Funeral of Man feels cohesive. You’ve got a similar approach, but as discussed your production and tones have cleaned up nicely. In terms of your musical approach, you guys have always felt focused. Do you see things as having changed? If so, where are you at with musical evolution this late in the game?
DO: There are definitely changes present in our music, but much of the approach is the same. We’ve always worked together as a unit when it comes to songwriting, so that helps maintain a sense of cohesiveness throughout our material, but at the same time, things have evolved. [Lineup changes] have had their impact, and often leads to other members stepping up their contributions to the creative process. I feel we’ve shed a lot of our black metal influences (but not quite all of them) and emphasized early ‘90s death metal with a healthy dose of thrash on this latest record. Our core sound is understood, but at the same time, we want to keep things fresh and exciting.
Begrime plays Manitoba Metalfest on Friday, April 15th alongside Terrorizer, Immortal Possession, Flash Out and Plague. You can also see Begrime Exemious in Edmonton on Friday, April 22 at Mama’s Pizza with MessiahLator and AHNA. The next evening, Begrime plays Calgary with AHNA, BlackRat, and Mortality Rate at Lord Nelson’s Pub and Grill.AB, Alberta, Begrime Exemious, Lord Nelson's, Mama's Pizza, Manitoba, Manitoba Metalfest, MB