Brutalised Britanic Butcherers
CoC chats with Declan Malone and Giuseppe Cutispoto of Infestation
by: Paul Schwarz
Last year you may recall me talking to Infestation's enthusiastic drummer David Hirscheimer [CoC #39] on account of the stunning quality of the band's _Curse of Creation_ demo EP [CoC #36]. Well, a year later and we see one of Britain's best brutal death metal exports since the early nineties with a record deal (courtesy of Stuart Ness' newly formed Lunasound organisation) and a debut album just released: the crushing and varied _Mass Immolation_. What we no longer see is Dave Hirscheimer's name in the album's credits, for soon after I talked with him he left for a brief tenure in with Cradle of Filth (he was unfortunately sacked after a mere two gigs). Infestation eventually recruited the talented Declan Malone after trying out a number of drummers, but in the meantime their original guitarist Jamie Evans slinked off. He was replaced by Jeremy Gray and thus Infestation forged on ahead to outdo their impressive demo with their rock solid debut offering [see Album Asylum for review --Paul]. I met up with new drummer Declan Malone and original guitarist Giuseppe Cutispoto to talk blasphemy, masochism and other pleasant topics.

CoC: Were you happy with the way the album turned out?

Declan Malone: We're basically happy with the way it came out, but I think we're such a tight unit now. We've been rehearsing solidly; our main ambition is to be professional about it. There are times when you sort of muck about but it's not about that anymore.

Giuseppe Cutispoto: It's our dream, you know what I mean, it's always been our dream to get to this level, make an album, do a tour: that's been like a passion.

DM: And the new stuff we're writing is much better, it's getting somewhere and we're dead chuffed with it.

CoC: Things have definitely got tighter since the demo (last year's _Curse of Creation_), the production makes it crisper and the actual playing has definitely tightened itself up; whatever little holes were there. Is the new stuff more complex, more different or do you think you're just writing more technical things?

GC: We've never been a technical band like Morbid Angel or Suffocation. We basically do what comes from the heart, whether it's simple or technical.

DM: It's basically what you can move to, because I think there is a lot of bands that overdo it. I think Cryptopsy's _None So Vile_ is the closest any band has come to total chaos without it sounding like noisy shit, 'cause the way it flows you can still headbang, you can still stand at the bar pretending to do a blastbeat when you hear it. Cryptopsy's not our major influence, but it's one of them; everyone loves that album. What we're trying to do is basically get something which has a grind or a groove people can really get into, that'll cause a big mosh. Say some of the bits in _Harmony Corruption_; it's almost an old Florida sound -- Scott Burns did it, didn't he -- so perhaps not -sounding- like Napalm Death but with those rhythms. And then you've got your quick bits, and people, I think, appreciate a quick bit more when it's not just blasting all the way through. That's been done, there's no pointing in going over old ideas. And what we're writing now: you can headbang to it on stage and we love it. That's why it feels good, and we're definitely moving in that direction. I mean, the album we've done we're well chuffed with and whatever we do is one step further to getting to the top and making it.

GC: And we're always improving as well. I mean, we practice and as time goes on we always get better; each song we write is better than the last one. It's not like we did it on purpose, it's just that that's the way it happens. And it's such a good feeling: the atmosphere in the band at the moment.

CoC: Do you think the live playing has really changed things?

GC: The whole thing with losing the drummer [David Hirscheimer, who was recruited by Cradle of Filth, played two gigs, and was let go --Paul] was that we lost a really good drummer and we gained, in my opinion, a better one, a more powerful one. The line-up we've got now is the strongest it's ever been. There's no way it's going to change: -this is the line-up-.

DM: When we recorded the album -- after losing a drummer and guitarist -- we'd only just started with this new line-up and we lost half the writing part of the band. In the last six months the chemistry has really improved, we all know what sort of speed a riff needs and Dave [Samuel] is the most amazing vocalist. There's not a single person that I know who touches him. Bands that just do super-low vocals like Soils of Fate are good, but it's nice if you can mix 'em. He can scream and also do low vocals. You can hear it on songs like "The Hunt". He used no effects at all on the album.

GC: He has a big range. He can do loads of stuff. The screams, the growls: we don't often know what's going to come next.

DM: And the breathing he does -- where he's exhaling and inhaling at the same time -- that allows him to go super low. On the album everything has been over-dubbed, so you've got two vocal tracks going at the same time, mixing in, but in the rehearsals you hear him and you wouldn't even think it's a human being.

GC: I mean, we're playing and suddenly you're like <turns head in fixation as if distracted from playing a guitar>... fucking hell! It's good to have someone like that because with Dave we'll be playing a song and he just takes off.

DM: He's basically our bass player. When we're playing something high up he'll do a low, deep growl and that complements it.

CoC: In a lot of death metal bands the vocals are just superfluous.

DM: Yeah, and I mean, I am not knocking any other bands, but there are certain vocal patterns which basically just stick with the beat. There are people out there who just grunt and scream, and that's great, but we want to do more than that. I love great vocal patterns. I mean, Chris Barnes, he may be very low, but he's written some nice vocal patterns.

GC: I mean it's not just the vocals, it's the pattern as well.

DM: Like early Cancer, great fuckin' vocal patterns. Cryptopsy is just fucked up, but that still works, 'cause you wouldn't want someone grunting all the way through that -- the music does enough. [Lord Worm's] whole psychological edge just pays off. Like I was reading that review of the nineties [in Terrorizer magazine --Paul] where it said that the vocals are not just about the singin', it's like another musical instrument whereas in other genres it's not. In this it is an instrument and Dave -- if it was a guitar it would be a fuckin' ten thousand pound BC Rich... with sixteen cabs. <we all laugh>

GC: A la Slayer.

CoC: "The Hunt" and "Black Pope" move things on quite a bit from the demo tracks. There's also a full blown solo on "Demons of Darkness".

DM: That was sort of my idea to try that out. I think it works really well, sounds a bit like Death. I don't really like white-noisy solos, but I've never been against doing something good. We tried that.

GC: "The Hunt", on the other hand, has been kickin' about for two years or so. That song came about on the spur of the moment. People said we couldn't have clean bits 'cause it's death metal or whatever, but we just liked it. Like I said before, if we like it and it sounds good, we'll have it.

CoC: Good attitude. It's surprising that so many people are still surprised at acoustic bits.

GC: Yeah, like Vital Remains did all those classical bits. That's totally different but it's brilliant.

CoC: It's also really good, because a lot of bands will use acoustics or keyboards as an intro and -then- come in with something really heavy, but there are few bands who put it into songs well. Vital Remains have those big riffs with acoustic guitars behind them.

GC: Yeah, and sometimes you wonder what's going on, but then again you have to admire what they're trying to do, because they're not just adding an element, they're just trying stuff out and seeing what works.

DM: You try something, and if it works, it works. I mean, in the new stuff we've got three songs which have slow bits either bang in the middle or at the start. You appreciate it 'cause it flows. I mean, there aren't many bands who use acoustic bits; some, but not many. Thing is "The Hunt" and "Evil, Evil" are about Robert Ramirez: "The Hunt" is actually about him stalking his victims and "Evil, Evil" is about what's going on in his head. So that acoustic start is sort of like an old horror film, in a way. You've got that and then at the end you've got "I am the stalker" and all these fucked up screams. It sounds... "evil evil".

CoC: "Evil, Evil" is a very full-on track.

DM: It's a great song and it's a great song title as well.

GC: All the songs on the album have enough variation so you don't get bored. The listener will be sitting there from start to finish paying attention because of the variation. But we always like to be full-on.

CoC: Are you -aiming- to make it more and more brutal as time goes on or are you really not worried about whether it sounds -more extreme- next time 'round?

DM: Well, we're always going to stay brutal.

GC: That's a really important element, but we don't sort of plan it.

DM: We can go brutal with a groove, not like stoner rock or Pantera, but...

CoC: Like Dying Fetus, but not in their style?

DM: Yeah, just something you can really headbang to. Like the album but just sort of more progressed. I think everything comes with age. Like I said before: this line-up has been together a year now so things are fuckin' flowing and moving on. We've done a lot of work and we're getting there and the new stuff we're writing is so, so good. It has different elements in it from the album.

GC: I mean, to give you an example, when we got Jeremy [Gray, guitar] and Declan in we wrote two songs -- "Legions of Death" and "Demons of Darkness" -- in one weekend on the second practice we were together. That's how strong the line-up is. It just happened like that. The chemistry just all clicked. This line-up has only been together for a year and it's getting stronger and stronger and stronger.

DM: I really think our live show is really getting there. It's all improving, but when we get reviews that criticise things we work on them. It's almost like a new band that's been together for a year now: that's the way I look at it.

CoC: With the lyrics. Does Dave usually write lyrics post-practice?

GC: If we write a song at band practice we record it and he takes it home and works on it, and the next week or whenever he's done the lyrics, he brings it down and works out vocal patterns and puts it all together. And we all work together.

DM: I mean, Dave is a really intelligent guy, he does not write shit. He goes home and works on ideas and makes sure the song has a good vocal pattern, because you can ruin a song with a bad vocal pattern. And the lyrics behind it are always good twisted lyrics.

CoC: Is a lot of it about serial killers?

GC: Well, we've got stuff about serial killers, demonology... masochism, which is Dave's thing. He's well into that.

DM: He loves it, if you look at his arms and his chest it's testament to it. He's got big Baphomet seals on there that are not there for show. He's a step above what a lot of people think. He doesn't do things to be cool, he does things because he means them. He'll carve stuff into him because that's what he loves. Some of the stuff is like your basic death metal, like "Butcher Knife".

GC: Then you've also got the blasphemy sort of side of things, because we all hate religion, basically.

DM: Dave's not a big fan of Jesus.

GC: Me, personally, I can't stand the whole religion thing. Christianity, I fuckin' despise it, to be perfectly honest.

CoC: 'Cause you've grown up with it?

GC: I've just seen what it's done to people. I know a few people that are like Jehovah's Witnesses and I've seen the damage that can do.

CoC: In what particular way?

GC: It breaks up families and that kind of stuff. I mean, Christianity I hate with all my heart.

DM: At the end of the day, Christianity is just based around -wars- <they both sound in>. At the end of the day the most wars and the biggest killings have all been caused through religion. How the fuck anybody can deny that and look at the Roman Catholic Church in Italy that's got all this money and at the end of the day they give none of it to the poor. I think that if you want to believe in that, fine, but it's not about whether it's something I believe or don't believe in. I think that just finding out things on your own and whatever your guide is, is just fine. The whole concept of being told what to do by God or Jesus or the Ten Commandments, that's bollocks. At the end of the day it boils down to: if you're intelligent you'll work out what the right thing is to do. That guides you. At the end of the day everybody knows what right and wrong is and it's up to you what you do with that.

GC: Everyone's got an opinion, but the way I see it there are more important things in life than religion. Things like health, family, there's loads of other things. People are brought up with religion on the top of their list, above family and all that. I just can't get my head around that. Being part of a herd led by some imaginary person and having to do this or that because if you don't do it then you're gonna burn in hell, fuck it! I can't stand it.

CoC: Have you had any flak for your beliefs or lyrics?

DM: Our lyrics have been banned from being in the album. It's got nothing to do with our record company, I know that, but I -think- it's the people who are actually publishing it. I think it's kicked up a stink because it's blasphemous. At the end of the day they are offensive lyrics. In one song Dave actually says that Jesus is a cunt. Even though Cradle of Filth had t-shirts which said "Jesus is a Cunt" on the back, that caused a lot of flak, they got away with that, but there was a reason. We're not sure what's really gone on. What we do know is that it's got nothing to do with our record company. It's a shame that our lyrics aren't in there, but I think there are talks of it being re-pressed anyway. It's good publicity too.

GC: But we wouldn't write these lyrics if we didn't mean them. These are our thoughts. We don't give a shit what people think. If they don't like it, don't read it or don't listen to it. It's as simple as that.

CoC: It's different from bands who write stuff -to be- offensive.

DM: I think that's pretty childish.

CoC: I could understand why people would want to get rid of stuff like that. People saying stuff unthinkingly to cause trouble; there's no need for it. But people who want to say something and can't, that's what I call censorship. Immolation said similar things about their lyrics. The reason I asked about whether religion had been part of your life was because the reason Immolation were so anti-Christian was because they got sent to Catholic school.

DM: I went to Catholic school too, and I didn't like the way it was run. Coming back to the lyrics, I think stuff like the Cradle of Filth top -- I mean it is quite funny -- -it is- going to draw masses of attention, but at the end of the day it's not telling anyone anything.

CoC: It's interesting, though, the way that God and Jesus get a lot of flak because they symbolise the religion. I can understand that symbolically, but in the end it's the people who are doing it.

DM: Maybe you should just shout out the name of your local priest! <we all laugh>

GC: Yeah, I know what you mean, though, with the guy from Immolation going to Catholic school. There's a few people in my family who are Jehovah's witnesses. I've seen it. I've spent God knows how many hours arguing and arguing. What gets me is when they try and force it on you. I mean, if someone's a Jehovah's witness, fine, that's what they are. It's when they start laying it on: that's when it winds me up big time.

DM: It's basically up to people to look at things. It's like albums, bands, censorship: if you don't want to look at something, don't fuckin' look at it. With bands Cannibal Corpse, I don't really find gore and stuff like that bad, because it's basically made out of caricatures. But it's a death metal band. What the fuck are people going to expect? If Mariah Carey fuckin' all of a sudden had something offensive maybe, whereas we haven't got responsibilities. Because we're not influencing really young kids. I think these pop bands who are going out and getting really pissed, snorting all this shit up their nose, I think they're the ones who've got the problem, because I think they've got a responsibility. These people are only there because people are buyin' their fuckin' records and if a nine year-old girl suddenly thinks it's fuckin' cool to fuckin' do drugs because of that twat Noel Gallagher or whatever -- I think if you've got responsibilities, accept them. It's almost like being a mother. You don't say things that are bad in front of your kids, you don't swear at them or whatever. Adults work things out for them-fucking-selves, and if you don't like something, don't fuckin' look at it.

(article submitted 25/5/2000)


CHATS
5/19/1999 P Schwarz Infestation: Infesting For the Future
ALBUMS
5/25/2000 P Schwarz 8.5 Infestation - Mass Immolation
DEMOS
1/16/1999 P Schwarz 5 Infestation - Curse of Creation
GIGS
8/12/2000 P Schwarz Dismember / Akercocke / Infestation / Regorge Scotland Skinned Alive
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