When Death Metal legends Autopsy decided to call it a day back in 1995, very few could have foreseen the Californian act resurrecting themselves over fifteen years later in such impressive fashion. Unable to reach the heights of their classic début, Severed Survival, or it’s follow-up, Mental Funeral, the band split shortly before the release of 1995’s Shitfun, before transforming into Abscess, the side project of vocalist/drummer Chris Reifert and guitarist Danny Coralles. Eventually choosing to leave Abscess behind, Reifert and Coralles reformed Autopsy, and after recording the five-track EP, The Tomb Within, released highly acclaimed comeback album Macabre Eternal in 2011, following it up with the equally impressive The Headless Ritual in 2013, and Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves in 2014.Continue reading
It’s a freezing cold day in Worcester Massachusetts, but nobody on the “Through Space and Grind” tour seems to care. Exhumed front man and guitarist Matt Harvey certainly doesn’t seem to mind it. Hell, he’s having himself a backstage beer.
“The tour is awesome,” says Harvey. “It’s a great package, I think. The bands are all different and yet there’s enough commonality that it all makes sense and it’s not boring for the kids. Everybody is really cool. Everybody gets along good. All the bands hang out and party together.”
Pairing up again with headliners Napalm Death certainly doesn’t seem to hurt either. “We toured with them and Municipal Waste a couple of years ago now. So now with Iron Reagan, Napalm Death and us it’s a little bit of a class reunion kind of thing,” Harvey says.
But the real reason why Harvey is sitting in a cold dressing room in Massachusetts is not the camaraderie, but to start promoting the recently reissued album, Gore Metal – A Necrospective. (Relapse) “Lots of Gore Metal songs on this tour,” says Harvey. “Like, we do one song from Necrocracy and everything else is from the first three albums. I think we play one song from Anatomy is Destiny, one song from Slaughtercult, one song from the Hemdale split which is like a minute and a half, and then everything else is Gore Metal. It’s easy. We can play all the songs wasted, so it’s great for us [laughs].”
Harvey is well aware that re-recording an album isn’t the most popular idea amongst metalheads. Especially one held in such high regard amongst hasher circles like Gore Metal. While Exhumed’s label Relapse Records wanted to include Gore Metal as part of its 25th anniversary batch of reissues, Harvey had his own personal reasons.
“We knew we could do better. The sonic messiness of the album kind of became emblematic for me of the crappiness of that time in our lives and the schism with the band and the chemistry was terrible. So now being able to go back and re-record it in a way that – I like anyway – without trying to change it too drastically, I think for me turns a negative memory into a positive one. I mean that sounds sort of hippie-ish or whatever [laughs]. To me the album today is a lot closer to the way we would’ve liked it to be in the first place.”Matt Harvey of Exhumed, by Hillarie Jason Photography
Exhumed may be famous for gory lyrics and song titles like ‘Horrendous Member Dismemberment’ and ‘Limb from Limb,’ but the general public’s level of tolerance seems to be changing. While no strangers to some mild controversy: “We’ve been conspicuously asked not to come back by certain places,” Harvey says. “I think in this day and age it’s hard to be like too shocking. I mean if you just look at TV now versus TV in the 80s or whatever. There’s stuff that they can get away with and stuff that people are into. I mean you look at how successful The Walking Dead is. My stepdad who’s a conservative Christian, Fox News watcher loves The Walking Dead. Which is good because it gives us something to talk about aside from politics where we just argue. The appeal is huge and I think people find what we do to be cute at this point. It’s not as shocking.”
While a population being more open to accepting violent content in entertainment signifies less scrutiny for bands like Exhumed, Harvey worries that the “outlaw aspect” is at risk. We do live in a world where chefs are just as likely to have a sleeve worth of tattoos as the metal musician. “There was this shift where everything that used to be on the fringe got co-opted by the mainstream in not really a good way,”. “It’s a weird time you know. You can get a job and have long hair and tattoos. Which I guess is good, but now means that anyone can do it. Doesn’t mean you’re into this kind of music or into whatever. Just means it’s a fashion… A lifestyle, you know.”
WORDS BY HANSEL LOPEZ