Avenger Of Blood Spawns Evil with Shannon Frye
By Natalie Perez
Thrash metallers Avenger Of Blood are from the city of sin known as Las Vegas, Nevada. Since their career kicked off in 2001, they've released several demos, two full-length albums -- Complete Annihilation (2005) and Death Brigade (2008) -- and a split-vinyl with Witchaven, among other releases.
But due to disagreements and musical differences -- the typical band mumbojumbo -- they decided to go on hiatus in 2009.
Now, three years later, the band are back with original members drummer Shannon Frye and guitarist Marc Flores, plus Brandon Gulling on guitars, R.A. Carnage on vocals and Jeremy Hamilton on bass. The band wrote and recorded material for their upcoming EP, Spawn Of Evil, which is set for release later this summer.
Frye took some time to discuss the EP as the band were wrapping up things up in the recording studio.
REVOLVER: It's been three years since we last spoke. What has the band been up too?
It’s been a long three years, hasn’t it? Well, the band took a hiatus due to a lot of shit that happened. After Eric and Shawn quit (before you met us) our energy left and the hiring of new musicians was a big mistake at the time, considering who we picked. That era is one we'd like to forget about! It was a revolving door of musicians for a while.
We lost energy, we lost our own dedication and it just wasn't fun anymore. I still HATE one of the old members during that era! It was such a huge mistake! So we took a hiatus, and Marc and I joined another heavy metal band for a while until we felt the need to get back to doing Avenger Of Blood. We have a new lineup now and things are going great.
Speaking of the new lineup, can you give us a rundown of the members?
Well, it is still me on drums and Marc on guitar. Marc joined in 2006 and was on the Speed Kills...Again compilation and the Death Brigade releases. We have a new guitarist named Brandon, new bassist Jeremy and new vocalist R.A. Carnage.
Tell me about your EP, Spawn of Evil. How different is it from your previous releases?
With the old lineup of myself, Marc, Eric and Shawn, there was chemistry and a certain magic. Rather than try to recreate a certain magic which would deem impossible, it’s best off to advance the ideas and create new magic in a different sense. So the new stuff is a LOT different, to be straight. There are still elements of the old thrashy stuff we were doing, but we are incorporating a lot of death metal into it now. Since the band is so damn angry (well, mostly me, anyways), we felt this was the right thing to do. Plus it’s a different band since there are three new members, and it just really fits well. The music is faster, the vocals are harsher, and it’s a lot more insane.
Who is producing the EP? How has the producer aided the recording process?
The producer is Jason Cohen, a really cool dude and a good friend! He really knows his shit and what he is doing when it comes to recording, so it really helps a lot. He's also very knowledgeable in the style we play so that also helps a great deal. He's given some good ideas on fixing a few things we were working on while recording. He's a down-to-earth guy as well, so there are always laughs happening. He makes it fun to be there.
Where are you recording the EP?
The studio we are recording in is called Constantine Studios. It’s here in Las Vegas. It is a very nice place! It's becoming quite the known place here and it seems every band in town is either going there, booking time there for a future recording or they have already been there. I hope it succeeds for my friend's sake as I know how hard he works.
What label will be releasing the EP?
We are releasing this for free over the internet for the world to hear. We want to get our name back out there in the public and give ourselves a big push like we did before. We'll be shopping it as well in hopes a label bites. We feel this way would be best for us at this point in time.
How would you describe the overall sound of the new EP?
Well, so far it’s really angry and evil sounding. The guitars are razor sharp and can rip faces off! The bass is thunderous; the drums pound skulls into oblivion! The vocals are harsh and just crazy! The songs are turning out really well! We knew they were good, but honestly we weren't expecting it to be as good as it is turning out. We still have solo's to do before we start the mix process. I know it will turn out even crazier. I know a lot of bands say their new release is always their best one. I am not saying that at all ... but I can say I, myself, have never been this happy.
Did the band have any definitive goals they were shooting for before the recording process began for this EP?
No goals were really set. We just wanted to write a few good songs and see what comes out. We weren't even sure we were going to release them, but another good friend convinced us to do it the way we are. The only goals we had were that we wanted it faster and more insane in every way possible, and we feel we are accomplishing that!
Are you using any new instrumentation you've never used in the recording process before?
No. It is pretty much what we've always used. We aren't trying to move too far away from what we were doing before, so there are no banjos or kazoos or anything. I think using different instruments other than what we would normally use would not be good for us. It’s just kickass death/thrash metal music!
When did you start writing for this album? How was the songwriting process different/similar to previous Avenger Of Blood albums?
We technically started before we went on hiatus. Marc and I had a song that carried over from the old days called "Centuries of Hell," so we reworked it a little and it was done. We were writing for about a year on the other stuff after Brandon joined the band. If memory serves me right, we dropped like four songs because they just weren't up to par with what we were going for. There are some killer riffs that we'll possibly bring back. The addition of Jeremy and R.A. Carnage helped in refining what we already had written.
The process was a bit different this time because the old songs were all written by me and Eric (former vocalist/guitarist) with an occasional part or something from the other members. Shawn and Marc each had written a song in the past and had always helped in adding a riff here or there. This time it was mostly Brandon and I except for the song Marc wrote and a few riffs that he'd throw in. Lyrics were mostly done by me with a few parts that R.A. Carnage would work in or that Brandon would help with. It’s on the right track though and I am satisfied.
Do you feel any pressure to release this EP?
Yes and no. The pressure lies more in what people will think of the new stuff because it’s not going to be what they expected from our strict thrash past. At the same time though, I needed to do this for me! I hope people like it as much as we all do, but if not, I don't really care either. I just want to be 100% happy with it and to me that is all that matters!
Can you go into one or two tracks on the new EP? If so, can you give us the track title and brief description of how the track sounds and how it came about?
Absolutely! I'll just cover all of them here for you.
"Spawn of Evil" is the title track and was pretty much written by Brandon. I'd say this is one of the most aggressive songs we've ever written! It's a dark song and really makes you want to hurt someone! Brandon wrote this one and got the inspiration for it from reading the Stephen King novel It.
"Centuries of Hell" was the last song we wrote before we went on hiatus. Riff-wise it is pretty much a continuation of the old stuff from the Death Brigade era. We added some blast beats in and it gave it some new found aggression. It’s got a semi-melodic intro and just goes into relentless mode!
"Aggressive Psychotic Behavior" is the more death metal song of the three. Its got an old Celtic Frost feel in one of the riffs. The rest of the song is like a bulldozer destroying everything in its path! Brandon wrote the majority of this and he wrote it off of his inspiration from watching the movie I Spit On Your Grave. This song is a beast!
I can't pick a favorite because I like all three equally!
How is the vibe in the studio?
It is great! Everyone is positive and wants the best so we complement each other quite a bit both musically and personally. The producer was a fan prior to us going in and he loves it. He isn't going through the motions so that also helps a lot with each of us! We are making it fun! Sure we are also hard on ourselves ... but it’s not like the old days where we'd get pissed off at each other, criticize or ridicule each other or anything. It's a great vibe and I am sure if I had my way, we'd go back to the same studio again and again!
When can we expect the new EP to be released?
The way it's looking right now is around the end of July or the beginning of August. We aren't rushing it. We are excited about it and that helps us along with getting it done. Sure we wish we could go faster with it but the pace kinda works in a more positive way for us right now.
How many songs did you write for this EP and will the leftovers be put on a future full-length release?
We only wrote three specifically for this release. All the other songs were dropped because they just weren't as good as these. There were some great riffs but the overall feel and aggression for the most part just wasn't there for those songs. We've already started on new material for the full-length release but it is just something we are starting to get back into. We don't want to rush things because we know now what we are capable of, and also what to do and not to do with the new songs.
What are your upcoming tour plans?
We haven't really dug into that as of yet. We are arranging our first show back in September (if all goes right). We've been asked to play other places already, but things HAVE to be right with us in the band before we really get too involved in touring and playing live. We still have a little work to do yet.
Anything else you'd like to say or add?
Thanks for the interview! Be sure to check us out and watch for the EP Spawn of Evil! We'll have a new website up soon as well as some new merchandise. Thanks to everyone for reading and the support!
Check out Avenger Of Blood on Facebook.
Southern Californian Natalie Perez has a fiery passion for music, writing and photography. Dying to know more? Connect with her via her own reality she calls Natalie’s World.