By Sarah Kitteringham
CALGARY – It was a cold, densely layered riff and the ring of a church bell that kicked off the movement. Unintentionally harkening to genre progenitors Sabbath, the opening segment of “The Womb,” the first song on Horrendous’ debut full-length The Chills, instantly sucks you into the abyss of vintage death metal, mixing the bite of the Florida scene with the buzz-saw sound of Sweden’s overlords. Cavernous, sticky, chock full of toothsome solos, and loaded with dryly guttural howls, you wouldn’t be far off the mark to assume it was released in the early ’90s, when Incantation, Autopsy, Asphyx, and Entombed reigned supreme.
Instead, it was an offering from an upstart Pennsylvania based act who wasn’t touring that was unveiled in 2012 in an over saturated metal market. Guitarists and vocalists Damian Herring and Matt Knox, along with drummer Jamie Knox, had just been signed to the rapidly expanding extreme metal label Dark Descent, and while their debut gained plenty of attention, it should have received even more… even if the band members weren’t ready for it.
“We have always played shows here and there, but touring was not a priority for us – partially because it didn’t fit our schedules very well, but also because we felt there wasn’t enough interest out there to justify taking massive amounts of time off work,” begins Damian Herring, who triples (quadruples? Quintuples?) as the band’s bassist and synth player, as well as their recording, mixing, and mastering engineer through his at-home business, Subterranean Watchtower Studios.
“So instead we focused on carefully crafting our material, recording it, and releasing albums.”
It wasn’t until the one-two punch of 2014’s Ecdysis and 2015’s Anareta, both of which lived up to Horrendous’ debut’s promise, that things snowballed. Critics and fans alike howled their appreciation for the band’s ominous atmospherics, neck snapping hooks, sneaky tremolos, and skillful flirtations with doom and psychedelia. The band’s glut of international press never dried, and they were eventually selected to tour with Tribulation. Meanwhile, the studio was inundated with work from bands who wished to replicate the dynamic, buzzing, and eerie production values so skillfully applied by the young musician to his own band. It’s no wonder that Horrendous was eventually hand selected for the Decibel Magazine tour alongside Kreator, Obituary, and Midnight. Not bad for a band that still says they aren’t “actively focusing on touring,” despite recently adding bassist Alex Kulick to the fold for just that.
“It wasn’t until 2016 that we got offered a tour that truly excited us and also made sense with our schedules,” counters Herring. “Tribulation is one of our favorite current bands, so we couldn’t refuse. I feel very lucky that our first tour was with such a band. To then be asked to join the Decibel Tour in 2017 was just insane, and it’s just not the type of thing you turn down as a band.”
“Up until the spring of 2016, our live shows were fairly sporadic and relatively small – they had a very punk feel to them,” he continues.
“As a result, finding a great bass player and taking the time to teach them the songs really didn’t make sense for us during that time. However, as we started playing bigger shows, we knew we would need to add a bass player to fill out our live performances.”
The addition of Kulick takes bass off Herring’s over loaded plate, as the band plans to utilize him as a normally contributing fourth member on their upcoming fourth album.
“Alex has been great, and we are fortunate him and Matt met spontaneously in a coffee shop one fateful day,” says Herring.
He adds, “Our performances have really improved since adding him. It’s a much fuller, more cohesive sound, and now the complete picture/composition from the albums is there.”
This new addition will also be integrated into upcoming material, which Herring projects will be released by the end of 2017.
“If all goes according to plan, you can expect new Horrendous output toward the end of this year. We aren’t announcing anything yet since the wheels have only begun to turn, but we have plenty of material ready and hope to get it together and recorded in the near future,” he says.
For now, new and old fans alike will be satiated by live performances, which will mark the first time most of us have seen the band in such a setting. It’s an equal point of excitement for Herring, who is still flabbergasted he gets to not only open for a God of Teutonic thrash, but also see them every night on tour.
“It’s international law that they have to play ‘Pleasure to Kill’ any time they take the stage, right?”
We hope to hell he is right.
Horrendous is performing on the Decibel Magazine Tour with Kreator, Obituary, and Midnight. The tour touches down in Vancouver at the Rickshaw on March 29th, in Calgary on March 31st at MacEwan Ballroom, and in Edmonton on April 1st at Union Hall.Calgary, Decibel Magazine Tour, Edmonton, Horrendous, Kreator, MacEwan Hall Ballroom, Midnight, Obituary, Rickshaw, Union Hall, Vancouver