You've got to admire a band like California death-metal deviants Brain Drill: Not only has Cannibal Corpse's Alex Webster given them his stamp of approval (he called Brain Drill "one of the most musically over-the-top bands I have ever heard" and praised them for "truly raising the bar for technicality, velocity and overall extremity in death metal"), but they have a name that's nothing if not utterly fitting — it accurately describes their punishing sound, to a friggin' T.
What's more, the band's appropriately titled, critically lauded, blastbeat-heavy debut LP, Apocalyptic Feasting, is basically a technical death-metal lover's wet nightmare.
Drawing influence from Cannibal as well as Spawn of Possession, Origin, Disgorge, Decrepit Birth and Necrophagia, guitarist Dylan Ruskin told Metal File that Brain Drill's origins date back to 2005, and a group of twentysomethings bent on pushing the genre's limits to the absolute brink.
"We were definitely inspired by all of those bands, and I always wanted to play technical death metal — but I wanted to take those influences and make sort of a musical collage, with elements from them all," said Ruskin, about Apocalyptic Feasting, which is in stores now. "We did not want this record to fit with any of the current trends. There's deathcore, and there's a metalcore scene out there, and it's a complete trend. I don't want anything to do with that. We just wanted to write the most crushing and technical death metal we could come up with, and make little metalcore kids sh-- their pants."
A lofty goal, to be sure — one Ruskin hopes the band will have no problem achieving, both with their record and with their wildly unpredictable live sets.
"With this record, we wanted to show everybody that there's an underground genre of death metal that needs to be heard more," he continued. "It requires 20 million times more talent [than most subgenres of metal]. It's harder playing arpeggios and gnarly riffs than it is to just play two open notes on the E string. Our biggest intention with this record was to crush people with our music and expand their minds beyond the limits of metalcore."
While Brain Drill have only been around for a few years, chances are you've heard their music before — only, you may not have known it. Ruskin said that soon after Brain Drill were born, they recorded a six-song demo, which they'd hoped to release on their own. They even met a dude who promised them he'd press 1,000 copies of the effort.
"But he kept 900 for himself, and only gave us 100 copies," the guitarist explained. "He ended up selling all 900 copies on the Internet, and everybody leaked the songs online. This dude was calling it an EP, but it was never even an official release. So, that was circulating for a while before the actual full-length came out."
While Brain Drill are still a relatively new band on the scene, Apocalyptic Feasting has been generating some serious acclaim among metal critics. There are, of course, many naysayers out there too, but Ruskin said he tries not to let the criticism get to him.
"All you have to do is go to Google us, and you'll see we've been getting a lot of cool reviews," he said. "Then you go to some of these metal forums, and people are nonstop hating on the album. For the most part, we've gotten a lot of good feedback on the record, but on occasion, you'll see there's a bunch of nerds sitting around, bitching about bands they claim to despise but can't stop discussing, like us. I guess any feedback at all's good, because it means people are paying attention."
Ruskin is the first to admit that what his band does isn't for the weak-willed, but thinks fans of grindcore will quickly latch on to them.
"It's not officially grindcore, but it's like death metal at grindcore speeds," he said. "That requires a certain kind of audience ... but I do think it's possible for people to get into it."
In March, fans will be able to catch Brain Drill in the flesh, as the band hits the road with the Black Dahlia Murder and Animosity for an East Coast run that gets under way March 6 in Millvale, Pennsylvania, and runs through March 16 in Buffalo, New York. The guys' summer remains wide open, unless they're asked to hop on this year's Ozzfest — an invite they'd accept in a heartbeat ("I'd kill to be on that bill," Ruskin said, " ... not literally"). In early fall, the band will be back on the road, but with whom is the question. According to Brain Drill's label, those details are still being worked out.
Live, Brain Drill are at their bludgeoning best. Ruskin said sometimes the material they've recorded is difficult to recreate onstage — but not in the way you'd think. "We end up playing the songs twice as fast," he said. "Sometimes, we get so anxious to play heavier and faster live that we accidentally end up playing it all much faster than it is on the album."
And while Apocalyptic Feasting has been in stores just a few weeks now, Ruskin said Brain Drill are already thinking about their sophomore release. "We've been writing for it already," he said. "We have three songs done, and we want to get six or seven more together, so we can put out our next record by next year. We will keep putting records out, because we want to show as many people as we can that death metal still exists, and bands like us can still get signed — that there's a scene out there that has nothing to do with trends, that it's still going to be around for a while."
The rest of the week's metal news:
Walls of Jericho have been forced to pull out of the upcoming Bound by the Road Tour with DevilDriver, which was launched February 27 in Modesto, California, and also features Napalm Death, 36 Crazyfists and Invitro. DevilDriver frontman Dez Fafara told Metal File that Walls of Jericho are unable to make the journey because they lost support from their label, Trustkill Records; DevilDriver are currently looking for a replacement. According to Trustkill, though, "Walls of Jericho have decided to push up their recording session dates for their new album and are taking the time now to finish the writing process." ... Horse the Band drummer Chris Prophet has quit to "pursue other interests," the group confirmed in a statement. The Number Twelve Looks Like You drummer Jon Karel will fill in on Horse's upcoming Earth Tour, which launches March 5 in Sydney, Australia. "Mr. Karel is probably, like, one of the top 10 drummers who has ever lived," the band said in a statement. "It is thus fitting that he should now choose to play with Horse the Band. We are very grateful to him for agreeing to go on the hellish nightmare experience of seeing the world for free with us. We wish Mr. Prophet future endeavors, in general." ...
In addition to their shows in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and Toronto next month, Iron Maiden have announced that their Somewhere Back in Time World Tour 2008 will return to the U.S. in May for eight additional dates, starting May 21 in San Antonio and wrapping up June 2 in Seattle. "We are all greatly looking forward to getting back to see our fans in places like Texas, the Southwest and Seattle, where we haven't played for quite some time," singer Bruce Dickinson said in a statement. "And for this leg, we will be able to bring along all Eddie's toys, which we couldn't get on our plane during the first leg." ... Cryptopsy drummer Flo Mounier has broken a kneecap, forcing the Montreal extreme metal band to cancel their tour of South America next month. The dates will be rescheduled for later in the year. Mounier's injury will not delay the release of the band's sixth full-length album, The Unspoken King, since he had finished all his drum tracks before sustaining the injury. The album is tentatively scheduled for release this summer. ...
As I Lay Dying will launch a new tour April 22 in Santa Cruz, California. Dates run through May 23 in Sayreville, New Jersey. August Burns Red, Misery Signals and Evergreen Terrace will open. "It seems like we've played with every heavy band under the sun except Misery Signals, who are a pretty sick band," guitarist Nick Hipa said in a statement. "So, we figured it was about time. As for August Burns Red and Evergreen Terrace, we're all pretty much joined at the hip." ... Tampa, Florida, thrash/death-metal band the Absence have hired drummer Justin Reynolds to replace Jeramie Kling, who left the group late last year. "The kid is wicked good and keeps time very well without a click track," the band on said on its MySpace page. "That is a quality you don't find often in a drummer. So now that the drummer search is over, get ready for the Absence to start touring again and bringing head banging metal to your town." ...
Modern Life Is War have apparently decided modern life is too tough for their band. The Iowa hardcore group, which formed in 2002, has announced that its last-ever show will be on April 26. "There is no disaster or dramatic situation behind the breakup," the group said in a statement. "All past and current members of the band are still good friends and there is no bad blood. We just feel like it's the right time and would rather end things on our own terms than let our band become a ghost of what it was in the beginning, or to be ripped apart by outside forces." ... A thrash-metal documentary, "Aural Amphetamine: Metallica and the Dawn of Thrash," will come out on DVD April 15. The movie features interviews with members of Metallica, Megadeth, Machine Head, Diamond Head, Neurosis, Laaz Rockit, Sacrilege BC and many others. There is also plenty of performance footage, backstage clips and interviews with metal scribes Malcolm Dome, Lonn Friend and Joel McIver. ...
John Joseph, ex-frontman for metallic hardcore band Cro-Mags, has written the powerful autobiography "The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon," which is available exclusively on PunkHouse.org, a publishing company he formed with ex-Murphy's Law drummer Todd Irwin. The book covers Joseph's upbringing from the '60s through the '80s, during which time he survived an abusive foster home, juvenile detention centers, homelessness and a stint in the armed forces, from which he went AWOL. The story culminates on the Lower East Side of New York during the dawn of the American hardcore scene. Joseph is currently in the new band Bloodclot, which also features members of Biohazard and Pro-Pain. The group self-released its debut album, Burn Babylon Burn, last week.