Ghost Cult caught up with In The Company Of Serpents leader Grant Netzorg to discuss their new album Lux, which is out now. We chatted with Greg about the new album, the history of the band, how the birth of his daughter and raising her has had a direct impact on his music, the other members of his band and how they contribute to the unique blend of Black Metal, Sludge, Doom and American genres, the incredible Denver metal scene, Greg’s hopes to eventually perform the entire album live, and what the concert industry might look like post-coronavirus lockdown. You can purchase and stream Lux here and check out our chat!
Denver Stoner/Sludge outfit In The Company Of Serpents has spent most of its eight years as a fluctuating two-piece, with only vocalist and guitarist Grant Netzorg as the constant. The arrival of Vermin Womb‘s JP Damron to the drumseat has seen an expansion to a trio with the addition of ex-Black Sheep of Kali stringman Ben Pitts and, maybe as a result, fourth album Lux (Self-Release) adds elements of invention and atmosphere to the core sound, demonstrating welcome growth. Continue reading
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If you’ve read anything I’ve written over the last several months, you know I’m a recent Denver transplant who sings toe-curling praises about this mountain town’s Metal scene.
Here, long-drawn, Mary Jane-inspired riffs reverberate out past the vast expanses of breathtaking natural aesthetics, and leave a heavy-handed sonic impression on scenes across the nation.
And if you’re a fan of the best in “underground” Doom-driven Metal, you’ve likely heard of locals Primitive Man, In the Company of Serpents, and Khemmis.
Now, add to this list Smolder & Burn, a band whose hot and heavy, stony Sludge is driven by guitarists Jess Ellis’ and Pat Devlin’s hearty riffs, vocalist Chris Chango’s throaty vox, and bassist Chad Roth’s and drummer Marc Brooks’ captious low-end, a pointed mélange with solid grooves and a searing after burn.
“I had been wanting to start a side project for a while away from my other band (Chingaso), where I just focused on vocals and not on both vocals and guitar,” said Smolder & Burn vocalist Chris Chango of the band’s formation. “I was at my friend Benny’s house for a BBQ, and he was looking to get back on the scene after a long hiatus. He introduced me to [Smolder & Burn drummer] Marc Brooks. We knew of each other, but we didn’t exactly know each other, so I was asked if I knew of any other musicians that might want to get in on the action—I called [guitarist] Pat [Devlin] and [bassist] Chad [Roth]. We had a few rehearsals that went well, then some things came up, and Benny dropped out. I asked [guitarist] Jess [Ellis] to come in, and that’s when things got kicked into overdrive.”
Now, fourteen months later, Smolder & Burn is set to release their début EP, a four-song flex of desert Rock-infused Doom—think of a ballsier Queens of the Stone Age with bigger beards and way more booze.
The tracks are capped by Chris Chango’s clean vocal croon, a distinctive stamp that characterizes the band’s already inventive tunes.
“[Chango’s vocals] are what really got me psyched about this band,” said Devlin. “I listen to a lot of music, and I’m of the opinion that the voice should be used as another instrument. I’m not knocking guttural stuff at all—I’m a fan! But I want to make music with multiple layers, and having clean vocals from the get-go is much better then to trying to introduce them later.”
“I always wanted and preferred more of a singer [too],” added bassist Chad Roth.
“When I was writing the lyrics for the first songs we came up with, I was going to try and be a more guttural with the vocals, but the strange thing is because of the actual low tuning we’re in, [I was forced] to go higher in range in order to hit the notes being played. People heard it, and they liked it, so it just kind of worked its way into what it is,” said Chango.
Smolder & Burn recorded the EP at the Crash Pad, a recording studio over in suburban Denver, where they tapped engineer Bart McCrorey to capture their big sound over a two-day live recording session, the result of which is an impressive debut from one of Denver’s most impressive new bands.
What kind of stuff do you guys talk about in your songs?
“I’m a straight-up fuckin’ nerd, so I’m really influenced by Sci-Fi and comic books—Silver Surfer is one of my top five favorites,” Chango said. “So a lot of the stuff I write is pretty much about traveling the universe, loneliness, isolation, lost love, uneasiness in regards to never truly knowing who you are or why you’re here.”
What do you think makes the Denver music scene tight and different from that of other cities?
“There’s a lot of real motherfuckers here,” Devlin said. “People in this music community can sense bullshit a mile away. Granted, there’s a few assholes everywhere, but overall this place rules.”
Adds guitarist Jess Ellis, “I agree that this is one of the strongest, tightest scenes I have ever encountered. I believe what sets us apart is the fact that we are pretty isolated here. I believe that holds people to be accountable and respectful of each other, or you’ll get your ass run out. Most the bands in this city, regardless of genre, are incredibly supportive of each other.”
Fun stuff: Who are some bands you’d love to tour with?
“I will play anywhere, anytime, with any band. But I’d personally like to tour with The Sword, Lo-Pan, Clutch, Fu Manchu, Cake, Baroness, and C.O.C.,” Devlin said.
“If we’re talking dream tour, I’d give my left nut to play with Neurosis, Pelican, or be the opening act for KISS in 1976 on the Destroyer tour,” Chango added.
Speaking of touring, do you have any plans to play shows outside of the city?
“Nothing as of yet,” Devlin said. “But I’ve been planting a seed with some of the bands like [Denver locals] Cult of The Lost Cause and The Worth about doing some Midwest shows together, just to show everyone the musical diversity Denver has.”
Anything else you’d like to add?
“I’m honestly blown away and very thankful for the reception that we have received as a ‘young’ band. It always makes me jazzed when a friend’s band who I respect and really dig asks us to play a show [with them],” Devlin said. “And the fact that you dig us enough to give us a chance in your magazine— we are extremely lucky guys!”
Those of us stationed in Denver are lucky as well—were able to see the band live Friday, May 6th, over at the Three Kings Tavern. This CD-release show for the band also features fellow Doom-dealers In The Company of Serpents, Valiomierda, and Aeraco. It all kicks off at 8:00 p.m., and copies of the Smolder & Burn EP will be available for purchase. You’ll also be able to download the mixed and mastered version of EP over at Smolderandburn.bandcamp.com.
More information on Smolder & Burn can be found at www.Facebook.com/Smolder-Burn
All hell will descend on Denver, CO’s Gothic Theatre on Saturday December 5th as the third edition of the Denver Black Sky Festival gets underway. Sponsored once again by Relapse Records, Black Sky features the very best in national and local death metal, grindcore, thrash, and doom acts the scene has to offer. Grindcore masters Pig Destroyer and reactivated death metal lords Skinless head the line up of crushing, uncompromising bands. Also on the bill are Havok, Ringworm, In The Company of Serpents, Nekrofilth, Khemmis and Axeslasher. All of this has come at the impetus of the excellent Black Sky Brewery whose love of metal has only been matched by a deep craft brew list that changes daily, and tons of great food pairings for the discerning hesher. Tickets are still available for the show at this link:
“The next song we’re working on is about 45-minutes long,” confesses Matriarch guitarist J. Hartnett. The declaration isn’t in the very least surprising: the weed-fueled basement jam sesh that is Matriarch’s debut EP, Magnumus: The 44th Scribe and Lorde of the Hallucinauts, is evidence this Doom-dealing, Denver-based outfit is it in for the long haul.
To the initiated in underground music, it’s well-known Denver is a hotbed for Doom. As the hometown of punishing acts like Primitive Man, In The Company of Serpents, and Khemmis, Denver’s arid expanse can withstand many-a rumbling low-end. And now, with Matriarch a part of the low-and-slow fold, it could be said the Denver Doom thing is truly a scene.
“It just came together,” Hartnett says of the band’s formation. “It just coalesced into what it is, although [Matriarch’s music] started a lot faster and more mid tempo. Honestly, we just kept smoking weed and slowing it way down.”
“We were actually going to write a soundtrack to the arm-wrestling movie, Over the Top, ” Matriarch guitarist and vocalist Austin Wilson chimes.
“Like how Dark Side of the Moon syncs up with the Wizard of Oz,” Hartnett says. “We were going to call it Lincoln Hawk, which was Stallone’s name in the movie—we make a lot of decisions that are marijuana based.”
It’s interesting to me that there are so many Doom Metal bands coming out of Denver—do you think it’s because weed is legal that everyone plays so slow?
“Maybe!” Matriarch Drummer Tyler McKinney exclaims. “But I think all of the Doom bands in Denver smoked weed way before it became legal.”
“The correlation or causation of it—it’s a good one,” Hartnett muses. “I don’t think it helps with the formation of bands, but it definitely helps with the attendance to a show.”
“Marijuana is not a suggestion—it’s a requirement to play or watch Doom,” Wilson says.
The debut Matriarch EP was released in April—
“on 4/20 at 4:20 pm—it’s so stupid,” Hartnett laughs.
Well, it only has two songs, and it’s 44-minutes long: How do you know when a Matriarch song is “done?”
“It takes a long time to get through writing a song,” McKinney explains. “We’ve even recorded drums for a song we’re in the middle of still writing.”
“Honestly, it takes us about eight months to get through a song,” Hartnett adds.
Are you guys “Tone Lords?”
“It’s more fun for us to just collect stuff and see what happens,” Wilson says.
“We like having the big presentation of it—the volume of it,” adds Hartnett.
Why do you do Doom?
“Well, we definitely make music for ourselves,” McKinney says.
“Yes, as cliché as it is, we wanted to do this for ourselves, whatever you want to call it,” says Wilson.
“And everyone in Matriarch has a really high standard; we don’t want to suck when we play out and it’s hard to sustain this minimal thing we do,” Hartnett admits. “But our biggest goal in playing this music is to have our own sound and to not sound like anyone else—even within the Denver or Doom scene, we want to have our own place…I do think we’ve sonically found our little niche.”
Magnumus: The 44th Scribe and Lorde of the Hallucinauts is available over at the Matriarch Bandcamp.com page. You can keep up with more Matriarch information, as well as an update on their forthcoming 45-minute-long song, at www.Facebook.com/MatriarchDoom.
Produced, mixed and mastered by Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, Catheter, Nightbringer, Primitive Man etc.) at Flatline Audio in Denver, Colorado, Merging In Light boasts over twenty chest-heaving minutes of bottom-heavy, riff-sodden, fuzzed out cheerlessness.
Mar 06: Bar Deluxe – Salt Lake City, UT (w/ Oxcross, Top Dead Celebrity)
Mar 07: Crazy Horse – Boise, ID (w/ Oxcross, Top Dead Celebrity, Swamp Shrine)
Mar 09: Highline – Seattle, WA (w/ UN, Breag Naofa)
Mar 10: Tonic Lounge – Portland, OR (w/ Burials, Satanarchist, Dispossessed)
Mar 11: Eli’s Mile High Club – Oakland, CA (w/ Devoid)
Mar 12: Complex – Los Angeles, CA (w/Teeth)
Mar 13: The First Universalist Church Of San Diego – San Diego, CA (w/ Old Man Wizard, Garth Algar, Garth Algar)
Mar 14: 51 West – Phoenix, AZ (w/ Twin Giant, Ladybird, Gale)
Mar 15: Launchpad – Albuquerque, NM (w/ End to End, Iceolus, Echoes Of Fallen)
Mar 17: Billiards Back Room – Abilene, TX (w/ Adrenal Asphyxia)
Mar 18: The Badlands – Austin, TX (w/ Mountain Of Smoke, Destroyer of Light + more for the Austin Heavy Music Vol.2 Showcase)
Mar 19: The Double Wide – Dallas, TX (w/ Terminator 2, The Spectacle)
Mar 20: The Blue Note – Oklahoma City, OK (w/ Idre)
Mar 21: The Crows Nest – Wichita, KS (w/ The Serpent Overlord, Idre)
Mar 06: Bar Deluxe – Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 07: Crazy Horse – Boise, ID
Mar 09: Highline – Seattle, WA
Mar 10: Tonic Lounge – Portland, OR
Mar 12: Complex – Los Angeles, CA
Mar 14: 51 West – Phoenix, AZ
Mar 17: Billiards Back Room – Abilene, TX
Mar 19: The Double Wide – Dallas, TX
Mar 20: The Blue Note – Oklahoma City, OK
The EP was produced, mixed and mastered by Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, Catheter, Nightbringer, Primitive Man) at Flatline Audio in Denver, CO. Stream “Breed, Consume, Die” here, “Third Mind” here, and “A Union Of Opposites” here.
Produced, mixed and mastered by Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, Catheter, Nightbringer, Primitive Man, Cobalt, etc.) at Flatline Audio in Denver, Colorado, Merging In Light boasts over twenty hostile minutes of bottom-heavy, riff-sodden, cheerlessness and auditory gloom.
Merging In Light features artwork by renowned illustrator Sam Turner, (Sleep, Speedwolf et al) and will be released independently on limited 12″ colored vinyl with an etched B-side. The two ouroboros serpents forming the Vesica Piscis symbol on the front and back cover will be done in UV spot gloss on the jacket, so it will have the appearance of glossy black against matte black. Additionally, 100 of the 500 records pressed will have a haze of black set against a milky, semi-translucent white, and will also come with a printed slipmat available. The remaining 400 will be white vinyl.
Dec 06: The Marquis Theater – Denver, CO (W/ To Be Eaten, Call Of The Void, Feather And Bone)
Jan 16: The Marquis Theater – Denver, CO (* EP Release Show w/ The Flight Of Sleipnir, Ghosts Of Glaciers, Dreadnought)