One year in a dog’s life equals seven for a human. Dog years are a lot like touring musician years: Being on the road and learning from more seasoned bands, playing music every night, traveling together every day, a lot of growth happens at super-human speed. “For a fulltime musician, a year is a long time; one album is a huge difference. We love that album [Desolation of Eden, Chelsea Grin’s debut] but like any musician, old stuff is old stuff, when you get better you want to write different things,” Chelsea Grin bassist David Flinn says, revealing, “We all sat down and talked about what we wanted the new album to be—we wanted it to include ideas that date back to our EP but open up to things we listen to now like Thrice, Black Dahlia Murder, and indie rock. We didn’t want to put out the typical deathcore album. “
“When we wrote the first album I was still in the Army and Dan [Jones, guitarist] joined the band on the way to the studio,” David says with a laugh. “Since we released Desolation of Eden we’ve had a stable lineup and we’ve become more confident. This time we weren’t rushed.” Though the band’s signature guttural vocals, whiplash-inducing breakdowns, and Middle Eastern-flavored melodies remain on the band’s latest–My Damnation, out July 19th on Artery Recordings–the Salt Lake City, Utah-based sixpiece’s latest assault is both more direct and diverse. “We recorded the track ‘My Damnation’ last summer at preproduction and when we took a step back and listened to it, it was like ‘Wow this is a big step for us.’”
Chelsea Grin is Alex Koehler (vocals), Michael Stafford (guitars), Jack Harmond (guitars), Dan Jones (guitars), David Flinn (bass) and Andrew Carlston (drums). The band started in high school inspired by Whitechapel, Emmure, and Job For A Cowboy, among others. The guys quickly made a name for themselves playing VFW Halls on the weekends and releasing a debut EP that sold out at local retailers. “Two years ago everyone was 18, just graduated from high school and started touring, it was like jumping from high school to college in a van,” David explains. After some brief regional tours the band signed to the Artery Foundation for management and then signed on as the first band on Artery Recordings, a joint partnership with Artery Management and Razor & Tie Entertainment. Chelsea Grin released it’s debut, Desolation of Eden, in Feb 2010, it sold over 20,000 copies; garnered a spot on the coveted Alternative Press “AP Recommends” column; and was voted #2 in the September 2010 AP Readers Chart. The band toured throughout 2010-2011—highlights have been jaunts with Whitechapel, For Today, 2010’s Thrash & Burn tour, and 2011’s Bamboozle Festival.
My Damnation was produced by Zeuss (Hatebreed, The Acacia Strain, Emmure) who focused the band’s double bass and three-guitar dynamic. “His ears are trained to hear what works in terms of drums, three guitars and he helped fix parts.” The disc opens with the one-two jabs of “The Foolish One” and “Everlasting Sleep,” classic bowel-churning grooves with refined subtleties. Vocalist Alex Koehler tastefully branches out and the lead guitars are more lyrical. Alex has been working on his vocals with exercises and warm-ups, strengthening and diversifying his feral roar. On “Last Breath” Alex somehow manages to keep his vocals blood-raw while exploring a more melodic approach. “The songs really mean something, they go somewhere,” Dan says, adding that there is a conceptual bend to the album. “It’s based loosely on being condemned to hell and finding your way out to salvation, dealing with actions and consequences,” David explains. Guitar-wise, the team of three have upped the chops and widened their palette. Nowhere is this more evident than on the meditative classical acoustic guitar piece “Kharon.” “It’s completely crazy,” Dan says enthusiastically, “No one expects that but our guitarists love classical guitar.”
The album’s final track, “All Hail the Fallen King,” is a special track for the band as it features Whitechapel vocalist Phil Bozeman trading verses with Alex. Whitechapel was a foundational band for the guys when they were starting out. “When Phil sent the track back, we couldn’t stop listening to it. It was a dream come true to be the first band Phil ever did guest vocals for,” Dan says. “It’s been a wild ride. A year ago we were on our third tour and playing small halls, now we’re playing all-ages venues with bands we’ve been listening to for three years,” Dan marvels. Recently the band’s first headlining show in Washington sold out and -they reached the esteemed milestone of getting instrument endorsements to replace their shabby baby-band equipment. “When I look back at what’s all happened,” Dan states reflecting, “How far we’ve come from being a local broke-ass band with no idea what we are doing, I’m amazed. We’re so grateful.”