As first reported by Sick Drummer on social media, Gruesome drummer Gus Rios has been admitted to a Florida hospital after testing positive for coronavirus. Gus updated fans over social media and seems upbeat and positive he will beat this virus that as of today has killed 220,000+ Americans. We are big fans of Gus, the masterful Death metal drummer of many past bands, producer, and writer, who has two releases this year. He played on the Exhumed/Gruesome split and also wrote, produced, and performed on the excellent, but underrated Liquid Death album, Greatest Hates earlier in the year! Get well soon Gus!
Liquid Death 100% Mountain Spring water has a new way to “Murder Your Thirst” today, with the power of internet troll powered Death Metal! Not one to take to savage trolling lightly, Liquid Death has created a Death Metal, Greatest Hates, album solely inspired by the hateful comments they have received online. They made the music with a veritable who’s who of music, including Gus Rios (Malevolent Creation, Divine Empire, Upon Infliction), Matt Laplant (Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, Nonpoint, Skindred, Malevolent Creation, etc.), Seth Ringler (Upon Infliction), Torin Ridgeway (Arsis), and Jim Malone (Arsis). Some of the song titles include ‘Huge Tools (Every Single Person Involved)’, ‘Reconsider Your Life Choices’, ‘Fire Your Marketing Guy’, ‘Selling Your Soul Is Deplorable’, and more! The brand also made a hilarious new commercial ad, which you can watch below. Continue reading →
Decibel Magazine’sDecibel Metal & Beer Fest was, to put it simply, stacked. Fourteen bands across all variants of Death, Grindcore, Prog, and Doom, descended onto Orange County for a weekend of heart-pounding jubilation. The two-day event was held this year at The Observatory, a large yet paradoxically intimate standing-room-only venue, intelligently designed to put the audience at three different heights across the entire space, offering uninhibited views of the stage beyond the perils of the pit.Continue reading →
In the world of death metal, there are few bands who are well respected as the band who set the foundations the whole genre, Death. To this day, the death of Chuck Schuldiner remains one of the biggest losses in the metal community, but the spirit of Death never really died. The Death to All tours kept Death a relevant part of the genre even after the death of Chuck, and this is where Gruesome becomes relevant as well.
Anyone listening to this band will instantly connect their sound to Death’s as there is some heavy influence in their sound. Gruesome are a death metal supergroup, with guitarist/vocalist Matt Harvey and drummer Gus Rios toured with Death, with both members playing on Death to All tours previously. So if any band is worthy of picking up where Death left off, arguably it’s them. They already showed why they are a force to be reckoned with on their 2015 début album Savage (Relapse Records), but they solidify their excellence on their follow-up EP Dimensions of Horror (Relapse).
Simply put, if you like classic death metal, you will like this EP. It’s a six track onslaught of everything that makes this genre what it is. From the shredding guitars, throat tearing vocals, pounding drums and dark lyrical content; this band does it all so well. But this release does showcase a small issue with the band, that being that they really don’t have their own identity due to how much they rely on trying to bring back the sound of Death for a modern era.
Despite that one minor gripe though, this EP is a total banger. I can’t recommend it enough, and I hope this band grows into the beast they can become, but they will need to form a unique identity first.
“One of the things why, and I’m not giving away any of the trade secrets – a lot of what made Death what it was – I didn’t realize until I did this record. The way he put riffs one after another was very, very, very particular to Chuck. He had a very specific way that he arranges his songs and it wasn’t until I started recording that I was like – so that’s why this sounds so much like Death.”
“Matt [Harvey] unlocked the code. Technically Dan’s [Gonzalez] the better guitar player, but Matt is a musical genius. He knows a lot about songwriting and I actually called him and had a conversation about it. I’ve been listening to Death…what, almost 30 years now? It never dawned on me that Chuck used certain musical devices repeatedly. He wrote very specific riff stylings and again, it wasn’t until I did this that I [realized why] this shit was so good. That’s why this stuff sounds so much like that.”
While recording Savage Land, they recruited one time Death guitarist James Murphy to do a guest solo on a song. Being a friend of the band already, Rios felt having him participating on the Gruesome album and him giving them the ultimate thumbs up helped their credibility behind making such an album of music.
“One of the turning points of the band was when we were making the demos, I called James Murphy. I’ve been buddies with him forever. Death metal is a small genre. That’s the thing. If anybody’s a rock star in a death metal band, then you’re a fucking asshole. Nobody’s a rockstar.”
“Go across the street to that restaurant and ask anyone ‘do you know who Chuck Schuldiner is?’ They’re gonna go ‘who?’ Death metal’s a small little genre. So no one’s a rockstar. It’s a tight knit, everybody knows everyone, especially in Florida.”
“I called James and said ‘this is what I’m doing. It would be super cool if you could do a solo on it.’ Then he goes ‘alright. Send me the shit. Let me check it out.’ “
“Now it switched from James, my buddy to this is James fucking Murphy. This is the dude who was in Death. End period we’re trying to emulate. If he called me back and was like ‘this sucks’…abandon ship. It isn’t going to work.”
“Normally James texts me, but when my phone rings and I saw that it’s him – I hope he has something good to say. I answer it and he’s like ‘dude this is fucking killer!’ “
Having Murphy guesting on Savage Land was a huge honor for the Gruesome members. What meants a lot was also having the surviving members of Death also giving their blessing to them, which meant a lot to Rios.
“I remember we had a conversation about it and he was stoked. He was like ‘I loved the part you wanted me to solo. It’s perfect for what I wanted to do.’ I immediately called Matt and went ‘it’s on.’ James Murphy thinks we’re unsung good. If he thinks it’s good, dude it’s probably good. So that was a big turning point.”
“For guys like Terry [Butler] loves the band. For guys like that who were in the band and to be like ‘this shit is really good’…for us that’s like the seal of approval. Eric Greif – same thing. The guy managed Death forever and still manages all things Death and DTA. He was like ‘you guys are doing something good here. This is solid. I know you’re doing this from the right place and I know you guys love Chuck.’ It seems like all of the ducks are in a row. We’re all in this together. We all love Death. We sound enough like them obviously to love this. I love this.”
Lastly, he spoke about the Slayer cover of “Black Magic” found on the deluxe edition of Savage Land.
“The reason we did that was because Matt saw Death live in ’89 and they did that. Apparently that was one of Chuck’s favorite songs so that’s the back story on that. It was like ‘we should do some bonus tracks.’ We purposely did eight songs because Leprosy had eight songs. Spiritual Healing had eight songs.”
“There’s nothing that we did that Death did that we didn’t know very well. I produced the record and my motto was if it didn’t happen in ’88 then it ain’t gonna happen today. So aside from the two inch tape machine I couldn’t afford, I didn’t use a computer to edit drums. I used a microphone on a real guitar amp and played the songs all the way through. For the most part, I didn’t use a computer plug in to simulate a guitar. Some of those songs on the drums were one take all the way through. There are some parts that aren’t super perfect. I liked the whole performance. I feel good about it.”
“I remember when I first met Sean [Reinert] back in ’96. I started taking lessons with him. I’m worshipping him for Human and he’s like ‘that album’s riddled with fuck ups.’ I’m like I don’t hear any and he puts a CD in and goes ‘boom…boom…’ “
“Back in those days there was no computers. That’s the point. In those days you had to play your instrument. There was no getting around it. You had to play your shit. Sean was my teacher for about a year and a half before I moved here to LA. He’s changed so much the way I play drums, and we remain pretty much best friends to this day. To have him here tonight…it’s pretty cool.”
“He literally walked up and he was like ‘I’m here….this is your fault!’ The other night we played with Obituary and Don comes up to me and says ‘killer show. I made the old ladies jump.’ I said ‘I learned by watching you!’ It’s all full circle.”
The members of Gruesome have enjoyed the strong response to their debut albumSavage Land, and recently announced that they would be working on new material, due out tentatively in mid 2016. Drummer Gus Rios shared his thoughts on the band making another record and their mindset entering the next chapter.
“One of things I like about Death the most is Chuck [Schuldiner] never repeated himself. Our challenge is to maintain Gruesome to that same level as much as we can within the world we want to be in. Our next record, I’m not going to give anything away, is not going to be Savage Land Part 2.”
“There’s a few directions it could go in and hopefully when people hear it they’ll be like ‘wow that’s awesome;’ ‘I didn’t expect that;’ or ‘I’m glad they did it.’ It’s not going to be the same exact record again.”
The uniqueness behind Death’s writing approach is what appealed to Rios, and something the members of Gruesome kept in mind when they began crafting new tunes for their next recording. He also talked about keeping the element of surprise much like how they did back in their time period.
“That’s one of the great things about metal back in the late 80s and early 90s. There was no internet…like Slayer’s record came out Friday. You already heard half of it before it came out. Where is the surprise in that?”
“When Spiritual Healing or when Leprosy came out, you didn’t know what the hell you were getting. You go into the store and you knew there was a new Death record and you bought it. When I first got Human, I went from getting Spiritual Healing and now I’m getting Human. Saw the logo was a little different, the album cover was a little different and went ‘I don’t know.’ Then I heard it and I went ‘oh my god…this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard.’ “
“I don’t know if we’re going to do any of that because to some degree people know what they’re getting. It’s going to sound like one band. Like I said, our hope is at least from one record to the next you’re not going to get Savage Land Part 2. With the next record, and the next one after that, it’s not going to sound like that.”
“Even sonically, that’s one of the things I don’t like about modern metal. Every record that you hear that comes out, it’s the same drum samples, the same guitar reamp. For me personally, if I buy Band X’s record, and two years later they come out with another record, I want it to sound different. Records are supposed to be a snapshot in time of what you’re trying to accomplish at that time.”
Rios elaborated about their recording approaches when they created the songs on Savage Land, and their old school approaches helped craft their stripped down sound, unlike modern techniques he felt took away from the raw sounds found on older records.
“When you set up a drum set in a studio, you get the snare sound and maybe you tune it differently. You tune your toms and you mic the kicks up. You move the mics around until you get the best sound and then you record it. You put your best performance into it at that time.”
“What a computer does nowadays most of the time when you hear a record is it takes anything you did as a human and perfects it, replaces all of your tuned drums with samples of perfect drums and in my opinion, for me personally, sucks the soul out of the record.”
“If every single record gets that same library of the same tom and same snare and same kicks and the same guitar simulator plug in, I’m just getting different riffs on the same record. In the late 80s or early 90s, no two Deicide records sounded the same. No two Morbid Angel records sounded the same. Certainly no two Death records sounded the same. Even if they went to the same studio with the same producer, it was a different day. It was a different drumset.”
“I can guarantee you the next record will sound nothing like Savage Land. Sonically. Riff wise, you’re going to know it sounds like Death. Very, very, very clearly. But is it going to sound like the era or the sound that we got on Savage Land? No. I guarantee you it won’t. There lies the little shred of originality Gruesome may have. We’re homaging one particular band but as artists I guess, our challenge is to keep the listener entertained one record after the other without regurgitating the same exact stuff over and over.”
“Dan [Gonzalez] and I are writing too and that’s another element. Matt wrote the entire first record. I’ve already written three songs. Dan’s written two. At least that’s our take on what we think Chuck would do. There enlies at least one slightly different element that’s going to be different. I think that’s the fun and the challenge of it. We’re still paying tribute to one single band but we’re trying to snake our way around it as many ways as we can.”
“I said in another interview that as long as there’s dudes on stage with vocals with (doing Cookie Monster imitation), Chuck will never be dead. In my opinion, I credit Chuck with definitely the creation of what everybody knows as death metal. Possessed Seven Churches came out first but that to me is more like Satanic thrash kind of shit. I remember being in middle school and this kid Rob Watson brought to school Scream Bloody Gore. In those days it was a cassette tape and a Walkman. This is in late 1987 and it was like ‘Slayer….please.’ “
“I remember looking at the album cover and that’s the thing. Everything about what we did…everything piece of what Gruesome is about is thought out. That logo, that flame…everything is thought out. Every piece of what Death was in the late 80s to little teenie Gus and Matt…every piece of that, the album cover. I remember looking at Scream Bloody Gore before I heard it and the album cover…when I heard the music it sounded like what I thought that album should sound like. I remember hearing those vocals and I just went ‘holy shit!’ I couldn’t understand a word he said or what the lyrics were.”
“Back in those days the cassettes had no lyrics in it. ’Infernal Death,’ ‘Regurgitated Guts’…gore horror. That’s death metal to me. If somebody from that restaurant across the street said ‘hey Gus, what is death metal?’, I’d probably hand them Leprosy and go ‘there.’ To this day that’s still my number one favorite death metal album.”
Through the music Gruesome had created, Rios said the band’s visions was to take newer fans back in time, much like his reference to Back To the Future did with revisiting their death metal past.
“Now what we’re trying to do is…Matt [Harvey] actually said it last night in San Diego ‘well we couldn’t build a Delorean. [We] can’t bring us all back to ’88 to re-experience that.’ All we can do is bring it back in some form.”
“It’s all in praise of…it’s not just Chuck. We say this every day. It’s Chuck. It’s James [Murphy]. It’s Rick [Rozz]. It’s Bill Andrews. It’s Sean Reinert. Gene Hoglan was there last night. Friday we played a festival with Obituary and we got to play ‘Born Dead’ with Terry Butler!”
Paying tribute to the almighty Death and their founder Chuck Schuldiner has come in many forms in recent years, as their music has helped shape an extreme form of heavy metal that new generations of fans have grown to love to perform and worship the lifestyle that was created.
For the members of Gruesome, they rediscovered their love of the band and wrote music that paid homage to one of the originators of the genre. Band drummer Gus Rios talked about what Schuldiner’s music meant to him growing up.
“Dude it would so fun if we fucking wrote songs that sounded like Death. I remember getting the first demo going ‘is this dude like totally doing séances with Chuck or what? What’s going on?’ The riffage is really authentic sounding, which made me wanna play drums in that span and falling for it. I even tuned my drums different. It brought out this old style of playing drums and it sounded better. He had no idea that it would turn into something as big as it has.”
He explained how he and vocalist/guitarist Matt Harvey (also of Exhumed) originally began this project around a demo of ideas and spawned from there. Those tunes are now featured on their debut album Savage Land.
“Matt did the first DTA (Death To All) and I was a guest drummer on the second DTA. Exhumed played one of those shows and I was playing ‘Baptized in Blood’ every night and he liked the way I played that old school style song.”
“So me and him got hammered that night and just kind of chatted about how much we loved old school music. He’s my same exact age. We literally grew up listening to all of the same exact stuff and obviously we really loved Death’s first three records…Human too. It was one of those drunk, ‘it would be awesome if…’ “
Before Gruesome, a few different ideas were attempted and did not come together due to various factors. So instead Gruesome was born.
“So I tried putting together a Leprosy DTA with Rick Rozz and Terry Butler with me and Matt. That fell through and Matt kind of jokingly said ‘dude let’s write our own songs.’ “
“The ideas sat around for a while. I quit Malevolent [Creation] in February of . I actually thought about it and I sent him a message on Facebook and went ‘remember that crazy idea…?’ I guess a week or two later maybe he sent me the first demo and I went ‘damn…this motherfucker’s got some really good ideas.’ So I recorded drums for it because I have a studio. I sent it back to him and he went ‘this might actually be good.’ “
The next person to come into the fold was Daniel Gonzalez (Possessed), who instantly became the guy to handle the lead guitars on their newly crafted music.
“Then he wrote another song and then we were like ok. I called Dan Gonzalez and I said ‘hey I think we might do something with this. We need a guy that can clone Chuck and James [Murphy], which is a tall order. Dan’s a really good guitar player. So he’s like ‘yeah I’m down.’ Then we immediately contacted Eric Greif, longtime Death manager and asked for his blessing. ‘This is what we want to do because we love Death. It’s sounding pretty cool.’ He was super cool about it. He totally gave us his blessing and he’s like ‘let’r rip. Hail Chuck.’ “
Once they got music completed, they pitched the idea to Relapse Records. While they were into the idea of releasing the album, there was briefly some hesitation over whether fans would accept such a record to be released.
“Relapse loved it, and still even then we recorded the album and still we were like…’what if people hate us?’ You know what I mean? This is some hollow ground we’re treading on. Are people going to understand that we’re really not cashing in on someone. I mean its death metal – nobody’s cashing in.”
“The short version of it is apparently people understand that we’re coming from a genuine place and this is just…Matt said it once [that] this is our nerdy love letter to Death. If Chuck could hear us from beyond the grave this is our way of saying ‘dude your music changed our lives.’ “
“For me it’s the funnest band I’ve ever been in, as far as loving the style. Leprosy is my favorite death metal album. If there ever was a band that I wish I could be in was Death, then now is as close as I could ever get.”
Rios elaborated on Gonzalez’s role within Gruesome and how his guitar playing became a staple part of their sound.
“Dan plays in Possessed. He lives and works in Miami where I work. He’s also an engineer so it was like Dan is a good enough guitar player where he didn’t need Matt to show him the riffs. He just learned the riffs and he recorded all of the guitars and he made demos. Actually it’s funny that in the emails with the songs, it was like solo one Murphy, solo two Schuldiner. Matt knew what kind of style he wanted Dan to emulate for whatever part he was trying. That was Dan’s job was to get inside the head of these dudes. We’re kind of like method acting a little bit. Like me on the drums – I’m thinking ‘what would Bill Andrews do here?’ You know what I mean – which is a very simplistic way of doing it, and which is not exactly the way how I naturally play I guess. It was fun – super cool and something that was out of my normal world. I remember recording the album with a smile on my face going ‘this is awesome!’ It’s fun death metal.”
The final piece was bassist Robin Mazen, a veteran of the Tampa death metal scene and someone who came up within the classic scene. She instantly became interested in taking part and became a vital part of the band.
“[With] Robin I played in a band with when I was 15 years old. That’s how far back I go with her. Not to get into that kind of politics but I know what it’s like to tour in a van with dudes that I maybe don’t get along with so well. I just wanted to surround myself, if it was a touring situation, with people who were genuinely friends. Robin’s the coolest chick in metal. Anybody who knows her would tell you. She’s fucking awesome. That was a no brainer.”
“Robin knew Chuck, lives in Tampa. She is as old school as any of us. She goes way back and I knew she would immediately get it. When she heard the demo, she’s like ‘this fucking rules!’ Actually it was her that said ‘watch this is going to be huge.’ We’re the guys making it. She had an outsider’s perspective on it. She was the one going ‘watch this thing is going to take off!’ I’m like ‘uhhh…it’s not really original.’ Nobody’s going to ever say Gruesome is an original band. We’re literally just reading Death’s playbook and trying to do what we think he would have done and in between the years of ’88 and ’89 really. Chuck would have never written songs like this, had he still remained alive – probably not.”
While Gruesome was originally unintended on becoming a full time touring band, due to Harvey’s commitments with Exhumed, Rios admits they did a lot more than they anticipated. Their recent brief US tour this past summer crossed paths with a lot of new fans along the way.
“Not really I don’t think. We figured maybe we’d do a festival here and there. Nobody anticipated the demand. I mean when the record came out, I remember Relapse was like with the presales ‘we sold out of the white vinyl in six hours.’ We went ‘really? People are gonna dig this.’ We had no idea. We’re just doing what we do. Obviously I’m super happy and obviously now we’re probably going to do another record next month and next year we’re probably going to see a bunch of more shows. He’s still got Exhumed so it’s never going to be a band that tours nonstop kind of a thing. It will be probably like select one offs, maybe one full US run, one full European run and festivals kind of a thing.”
“I think that will be cool because it will always keep the demand there. When Gruesome comes to town, it won’t be like every other day or every other month, or even three times a year. Plus me and Dan have real jobs and we can’t bail out whenever we want. Again we’re not really cashing in. I can’t quit my day job.”
Lastly, he shared some of the interesting moments they experienced on their recently tour and talked about some of the interesting people they crossed paths with along the way.
“I’ve gotta say playing ‘Born Dead’ with Terry Butler. I actually got goose bumps. I remember as a kid watching the Ultimate Revenge video…rewind – play – rewind – play. Death, for me…Slayer got me into this but when I heard Death, I was like – I found where I wanted to go in life. To be able to play a song from that era with the dude who was in it. He’s the legend.“
“I remember the whole song. If someone told the 14 year old me that this was going to happen one day, I would be like shut the fuck up. So that was a super highlight.”
“And today I got to meet Mike McGill. He’s an old skateboard legend. He skated in the Tony Hawk team in the late 80s called the Bones Brigade. I went to his skate shop today. It’s a Sunday and I don’t expect him to be there. I just wanted to buy some McGill Skate Shop t-shirts and the kid behind the counter was like ‘you want him to sign the shirts?’ I was like ‘the fuck? Is he here?’ I actually bought a deck! Sign a deck! I don’t care what it costs to take it home. I met Mike McGill. So that was pretty cool.”
Death metal supergroup Gruesome will be releasing their debut album Savage Land in North America via Relapse Records on April 21st, 2015, April 17th in Germany, Benelux and Finland and April 20th in the UK, rest of the world on CD and digitally. Featuring within their bestial ranks members of Exhumed, Possessed, Malevolent Creation and Derketa, they are a supergroup of sorts paying homage to the game-changing sounds of Death’s early recordings.
Gruesome was born out of guitarist/vocalist Matt Harvey (Exhumed) and drummer Gus Rios‘ (Malevolent Creation) mutual involvement with the Death To All tours – Harvey serving as frontman for the original nine-member mini-tour and Rios performing “Baptized In Blood” and working with DTA drummer Sean Reinert on the following US tour where Exhumed filled in as support on a several dates. After discarding the idea of putting together another incarnation of DTA to focus exclusively on Death’s first two albums, Harvey half-jokingly suggested writing their own songs in that vein. It wasn’t long before the idea gained traction, and the “band” had five songs written. Rios later recruited Possessed guitarist Daniel Gonzalez and Derketa bassist Robin Mazen to record the material in Florida.
The result is the eight scathing tracks contained on Savage Land. Recorded by Rios and Gonzalez at Riversound Studios in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, mixed by Jarrett Pritchard at Mana Studios in St. Petersburg, Florida and including a guest guitar solo on “Closed Casket” by James Murphy as well as cover art by legendary illustrator Ed Repka (Death, Megadeth, Massacre, Athiest et el), Savage Land is a truly gruesome slab of late-’80s/early-’90s Florida-styled death metal.