ALL-IN FOR THE LONE STAR STATE
Texas holds a ‘full house’ hand at 11th annual Las Vegas Death Fest 2019
TXDM throws down a pair from Dallas—Kill Everything & Reviled—and three-of-a-kind from Austin—Infuriate, Embodiment Of Suffering, & Images Of Violence—at the three-day death metal showcase held in America’s playground
by Ryan A Vasquez
Someone once coined the phrase, “In the desert, no one can hear you scream.” It’s obvious this person wasn’t accounting for 601 Fremont St. in early June, downtown Las Vegas, Nevada.
From June 6 – 8, death metal fanatics from all over the nation and overseas will gather to capacity for over ten hours a day to witness the industry’s most brutal national and underground acts to date, right in the heart of downtown Vegas—the place where proper etiquette and average societal restrictions take a back seat to uninhibited, next-level adult fun.
‘Big Mike’ and Filthy Productions present the 11th annual Las Vegas Death Fest 2019. What separates this event from any other major North American death metal festival out there (i.e. California DF, Florida DF, Maryland DF, Quebec DF and Chicago Domination Fest) is that you’re doin’ it in Vegas, baby!
Once again, the Fremont Country Club, and the adjoining business Backstage Bar & Billiards, will combine to create one venue featuring two separate and cleverly spacious stage areas [as seen in the four photos above], plus experienced high-volume bar staff and sufficient security.
This concept was first tested at LVDF 9 and proven successful for accommodating the masses in attendance and the chaos which follows. Attendees will come to appreciate the organization learning from previous years and implementing measures for a smoother, safer three nights of brutal death metal in a row.
But of all the chaos to come this year, every devastating name from Columbia, Italy, Brazil, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Canada, as well as NY, CA, NJ, IN, IL, MD, FL, OH, TN, AZ, CO and the Carolinas, no one is ever fully prepared to witness a hand like this.
If all of these destinations took a seat at a ‘Five Card Draw’ table and hands and wagers are being evaluated, a shark just sat at the table this year. My advice: DON’T BET AGAINST TEXAS.
Texas has been a prominent participating state for the LVDF through the years and returning stronger every time. But never like this. A hand this strong only gets dealt so many times in life. And RoM spoke with all five ‘cards’ before they go all-in in Vegas.
TEXAS LAYS DOWN THEIR FIRST CARD TO REVEAL:
est. 2015 Austin, Texas
It would be accurate to consider this Austin-based band a ‘supergroup’ made from several well-established names in the death scene. Drummer Sterling Junkin has also performed with Id, Widower, Laughing and Lying, & Venereal Baptism, and guitarist Steven Watkins also played for Serpentian, Sect Of Execration, Sarcolytic, and another name we will get to, Images Of Violence.
Bassist Alan Berryman continues to play for Whore Of Bethlehem, and vocalist Jason Garza fronted other projects such as Id, Blast Perversion, & Slow Grind. Yet, this is just the beginning of what was learned after drummer Sterling Junkin opened up to RoM.
How would you describe the chemistry between Infuriate compared to any other projects you guys have been in? I see Steven Watkins [guitarist] is doing a doubleheader with Images Of Violence.
SJ: Well, we’re just a bunch of idiots. Like with any band, there are inside jokes, farts, and tons of riffs. We mesh really well with each other and agree on pretty much everything musically.
Mike Gordon and Steven have been friends for a while and since Steven was already attending, Mike asked if Images Of Violence would like to perform. I will be filling in on drums and am very much looking forward to jamming with those fellas.
The debut E.P. is such solid, well-executed death metal recorded by A.R. Mendez. Tell me about the creative process behind the E.P. How were the songs written? I understand Sterling took on lyric duty.
SJ: Thanks for the kind words. It all started when Steven Watkins (guitar) and myself got to talking about Doug Cerrito, the riff master. Suffocation’s “Despise The Sun” and Hate Eternal’s “Conquering The Throne” are riff masterpieces. We finally decided to get together and see what kind of madness would come about.
Jason, Alan and Steven have very different writing styles and continue to challenge each other. As far as lyrics, I have always enjoyed doing vocal arrangements for songs, so I was handed lyric duty.
I decided to take an alternative route for lyrical topics instead of the usual blood, guts, and satanism that is so prominent in the genre. I wanted to focus on real world atrocities and heinous acts that are committed daily.
I think the sophomore album is really going to shine considering we have all grown together as a band. A. R. Mendez knew exactly how we needed to sound on a recording. We didn’t want anything too polished. It needs grit. He nailed it. I look forward to working with him on future projects, as I know he will have a promising career in the recording business.
How did Infuriate and Everlasting Spew Records come to be? How has life been for the band since?
SJ: Tito Vespasiani of Everlasting Spew has been an online friend for quite some time. He has always been a phenomenal promoter of death metal for as far back as I can remember.
Even being on the other side of the world, he has always been a huge supporter of Texas death metal in particular. He and Giorgio Spevo have been amazing to work with to say the very least. They go above and beyond.
Infuriate is now officially LVDF 2019 alumni, going down in history as one of the five bands representing Texas this year. What kind of thoughts and emotions are you guys having?
SJ: We are beyond stoked to be playing! I moved to Oregon in early 2018, so this will be the first time Infuriate hits the stage since the release of the album…we are really itching to get on that stage! WE. ARE. FUCKING. READY.
Any band you guys are particularly looking forward to seeing live?
FOR MORE INFO ON INFURIATE, VISIT THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE HERE.
TEXAS LAYS DOWN THEIR SECOND CARD TO REVEAL:
EMBODIMENT OF SUFFERING
est. 2016 Austin, Texas
EoS has been a rising star in the Texas underground metal scene with no signs of slowing down. They’ve made their presence known state-wide and stretching out further, which brings us here today.
Three years after forming they find themselves in one of the biggest death metal showcases in America, and vocalist/guitarist Vile Kyle decided to share more with RoM about this journey.
EoS has shared the stage with just about every death metal band in Texas. How would you describe the comradery among Texas death metal musicians when entering another band’s home turf? What locations / shows was EoS received the best?
VK: The comradery in TXDM is usually great. We’ve known most people/bands in the TXDM scene for well over a decade, so we’re all friends. Our favorite bands to jam with would probably be Defiled Crypt (S.A.) and Reviled (Dallas) because every time we play together we end up partying all night and not sleeping.
I would say our best shows have been in Houston and Ft. Worth, great crowds and rowdy pits. The DFW scene seems to be exploding right now. We’ve also had some rowdy shows here in Austin at The Lost Well, always a good crowd. The first time we played there a guy got knocked into the stage monitors during the first song, so I considered that a success.
There’s an EP on the way and we’ve been given a couple of singles now. Walk us through the writing process for EoS and when can we expect the release?
VK: Most of the songs on the EP I wrote on my own in 2016. When Rene (drummer) and Meryl (bass) came in we made some small tweaks and then wrote a couple of new songs together: “Your Corpse Is My Domain” & Fuck Religious Freedom.” When I write songs by myself, sometimes I have guitar riffs so I’ll program some drums to it or vice versa.
An official release date for the EP hasn’t been announced yet, but the tracks are about to be sent off for pressing and should be out by the end of this summer on Unopsis Records.
What’s the next step for EoS, any plans in the works?
VK: Once the EP is ready we are gonna revamp our Bandcamp page with new merch, the album, and digital downloads. Rene (drummer) is currently pretty busy with Flesh Hoarder, so we’re taking it easy.
Toward the end of this year, I’ll probably go on a hiatus to write new material. I usually like to keep my chops up and write new riffs, but I don’t like to force the writing process too much. When the time is right, the inspiration strikes.
With the exception of Rene’s return visit to this event but as Flesh Hoarder’s drummer, EoS is now officially LVDF 2019 alumni, going down in history as one of the five bands representing Texas this year. What kind of thoughts and emotions are you guys having?
VK: We are just very honored to be performing there. It’s a very cool thing to be a part of and I’m very proud of our accomplishments in such a short time. We’re happy and excited, but mainly focused and looking forward to doing what we do best: drugs, booze, gambling and performing brutal TXDM!
Any bands you guys are particularly looking forward to seeing live?
It’s gonna be a great time, and you can catch us at the slot machines or chillin poolside with my homegirl Cher!
FOR MORE INFO ON EMBODIMENT OF SUFFERING, VISIT THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE HERE.
TEXAS LAYS DOWN THEIR THIRD CARD REVEALING: AN AUSTIN THREE-OF-A-KIND WITH TWO CARDS LEFT
IMAGES OF VIOLENCE
est. 2003 Austin, Texas
With the vocalist being an accomplished tattoo artist and other bandmates busy with on-going projects, the name will be resurrected specifically for this event. And RoM spoke with vocalist Jon Zig to find out all about it.
2013’s ‘Revenants’ was the last album that dropped on Corpse Gristle Records. How had the writing changed if at all since the first release—2004’s ‘Cadaverous Recomposition’ on Deepsend Records? What were some of the greater highlights that you can remember that came from the ‘Rev’ project?
JZ: Absolutely changed. When you switch up the dynamic of the members writing music, the outcome is different but it keeps it fresh, though. It all changed when we brought Larry on board for ‘Degrade The Shapeless’ (Ossuary Industries).
Some greater highlights would be ‘let’s see what we can get written and recorded before Larry leaves for school,’ and Dobber being involved in writing “Revenants Of Silent Stone,” one of my personal favorite.
Those six months poured out of us like vomit. We just meshed well.
Because of the doubleheader for guitarist Steven Watkins (both Infuriate & IoV) and drummer Sterling Junkin (Infuriate) filling in for Shane Elwell (current drummer for IoV) for the evening, does this add more pressure to yourselves or your performance, especially at such a major event?
JZ: Considering we haven’t gotten together with Sterling in person to practice is definitely a whole different thing. He sent us videos of him playing the songs, and Steven and Mark played along with the videos in Steven’s studio. Sterling is a great drummer, so of course this was sick as hell to witness. Should be a brutal set.
Is IoV currently writing any music or has plans to record in the near future?
JZ: No plans as of yet, but we definitely aren’t opposed. We just have our hands full with Serpentian.
Images of Violence is now officially LVDF 2019 alumni, going down in history as one of the five bands representing Texas this year. What kind of thoughts and emotions are you guys having?
JZ: We are pretty stoked about it. Mike from LVDF asked us to play this year’s fest, which he wanted both IoV and Sarcolytic, but something always threw a wrench in those plans to play LVDF.
We have been wanting to for almost a decade! We hadn’t jammed with Mark (bass) since we disbanded, but still kept in touch. Personally, I haven’t jammed with Sterling so I’m pumped he wanted to resurrect IoV with us for a one-time-only show at Mike’s fest.
What bands are you guys looking forward to seeing at the event?
JZ: Looking forward to seeing every band give it there all and catch up with friends, fiends and associates. Should be a great weekend!
FOR MORE INFO ON IMAGES OF VIOLENCE, VISIT THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE HERE.
TEXAS LAYS DOWN THEIR FOURTH CARD TO REVEAL:
est. 2016 Dallas, Texas
Signed to Comatose Music, a North Carolina-based label exclusively for the brutal and insanely heavy, this Dallas ‘caveman grind’ powerhouse will return to the place where Kill Everything played one of their first shows in career history.
This band built a reputation for bringing out the beast in the audience to where the pit becomes interestingly demanding and incredibly harsh. So to return to one of the first events KE had ever performed at as the band they are today, should make for an unforgettable show.
Eight string guitarist, Brian Wynn—former member of Devourment, the Texas-born brutal death pioneers of the entire scene—spoke with RoM to break down the fury they’re returning to make.
Return veterans to LVDF (Class of 2016), tell me about KE‘s first experience here. Anything you guys learned from the first time that will better prepare you?
BW: Yes! Most definitely, I think every time you hit the stage you learn something new. When we played LVDF 2016 it was our first show as KE…Our first experience was nothing but blood and open arms…love and support from that moment to this day!
LVDF is a melting pot of international bands and fans [as well as the USA]…it’s a crowd of pure passion every year. From the man who started it all, Michael Gordon, to every band that’s ever played, it’s a big party and an even bigger family reunion.
KE has a Chicago Domination Fest (CD III) under their belt, a Deep Ellum Metal Fest as well as a return visit to LVDF. How has this affected your career or presence in the national death scene? Where has KE seen the craziest crowd(s)?
BW: Yeah, CDF, LVDF, & NYDF was actually our album release…we’ve maintained a busy schedule since ‘Scorched’ dropped, played all major cities in Texas (Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Odessa and Amarillo to name a few). The CD has been moving pretty well globally and we’re trying to pick the right timing to get overseas to Europe.
Every time we play it’s gonna be blood, sweat and madness! Every fucking town has spit blood and shown love. We actually shot a video recently for the upcoming single, “Infatuated With Homicide” at the Pit-Bulls Mosh Organization house. We could only do two takes with the ‘Bulls’ it was so violent. Several bloody faces, a throat punch…and a good fucking time!!!
‘Scorched Earth,’ the 2018 debut album under Comatose Music still in heavy rotation, tell me about the process creating this album.
BW: Thank you personally for that “heavy rotation.” People like you are what all the blood, sweat and beers are about! It’s Texas death metal, you don’t do this shit for tha money! You do it for the love! And the love and support we’ve received has been humbling for sure.
The creative process for the album, much of it happens during the live experience…Seeing the response from a crowd over new songs is always the best breeding ground for me personally. Sure I can throw out riffs and have ideas in advance…but live, that’s what you try to capture in the studio.
Months after the album release, our original vocalist Mike Majewski, unfortunately, had to step down and Weston Wylie stepped up to frontman and really birthed a new KE. Also, only having one guitar and one bass really cleaned up our already massive sound.
What’s next for KE?
BW: We’ll be joining Walter Greggs of Cranium Radio broadcasting live at LVDF, filming our DVD and probably us doing very fucked up things in the streets of Vegas. We’re also scheduled to play Los Angeles Extermination Fest…we have shows in the works always.
Comatose Music has been amazing to us, Imperative PR Company amazing, we’re learning and growing as we go and shaping ourselves into the best band we can be!
Any bands you guys looking forward in seeing this year?
FOR MORE INFO ON KILL EVERYTHING, VISIT THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE HERE.
TEXAS LAYS DOWN THEIR FIFTH AND FINAL CARD. THEY ALREADY HAVE AN AUSTIN THREE-OF-A-KIND, ONE KING FROM DALLAS AND THE OTHER REVEALS:
DEALER DECLARES TEXAS HAS THE WINNING HAND WITH THREE-OF-A-KIND FROM AUSTIN AND A PAIR OF KINGS FROM DALLAS, MAKING A TXDM FULL HOUSE
est. 2018 Dallas, Texas
New to the Texas underground death scene but proven fierce, Dallas brutal slam artists Reviled complete the ultimate hand for Texas this year at LVDF and boost their rank among the state’s death metal community.
Skylar “Thickneck” Taylor (vocals) and Brennan Shackelford (drums) took a minute to tell RoM all about the road to the biggest deathfest in the desert for the new guys on the block.
2019 is a busy year so far for Reviled and more stacked shows are on the way. Is ‘brutal death’ more accepted among audiences today, considering more and more mixed subgenre shows are becoming common, or is this genre still part of an elite crowd only favored in certain areas?
Skylar: I think it’s a bit of both. With social media, bands are able to reach fans who might have never heard of them, but I also think that a lot of people you see supporting today have been around for a long time. It’s very extreme in sound, lyrics and art…in the long run BDM will always be for people who are seeking that kind of gnarliness out.
How did the ‘Demo 2018’ EP come about?
Brennan: We really wanted to grind out some tunes to put in people’s hands from day one. In the span of one month we got together in the jam room, wrote as a unit, and recorded it all (with the help of some close friends).
Listening back, we should’ve slowed down a bit and really smoothed the songs out haha but it sold out and people seem to dig it so that’s cool.
What has been the most memorable or notable moment for Reviled thus far in your career? Anything over the top from a fan or crowd(s) that took you guys by surprise?
Skylar: Signing to Unmatched Brutality Records is hands down the sickest thing’s that happened to us. In the beginning when we talked about labels, UBR was the place I wanted us to land. Our homies in Defiled Crypt had just signed with them and it felt like the label was truly revitalized and ready to hit the scene as hard as it did in the 00s.
As for fans, we actually had a guy come up to us and say we made him want to restart his old BDM band. A week later he sent me some tunes he wrote—that was pretty cool.
Reviled is now officially LVDF 2019 alumni, going down in history as one of the five bands representing Texas this year. What kind of thoughts and emotions are you guys having?
Brennan: We’re super stoked. This was a goal of ours for 2019, so being able to achieve it alongside our good friends in Kill Everything and Embodiment Of Suffering is truly awesome. We’re looking forward to bringing a more “West Coast” style of TXDM to LVDF 11.
What bands are you guys looking forward to seeing at the event?
Skylar: The whole lineup, haha. If we had to name a few it’d be Liturgy, Gorgasm, Pathology, Necrotic Disgorgement, Amputated Genitals, Krannium, Waking The Cadaver, Regurgitation, Depulsed, Bloodscribe, Cranial Engorgement and many many more.
FOR MORE INFO ON REVILED, VISIT THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE HERE.
Three days of brutal national and international death metal, mosh pits, beers and good friends sounds like a great time. What’s even better is that you’re in Vegas, baby, Vegas!