Kurnugia - Interview

When it comes to new entries in the ongoing saga of the classic, old-school styles amidst the pantheon of extreme metal, you usually have two types of creative visionaries: The ancient masters who helped invent the sound and have never stopped using their skills and gifts to refine and unleash it, decade after decade...and younger bands who are quite worshipful of their elder heroes, and seek to pursue and perfect the brutality that so very much helped inspire them.

But then, once in a blue (or bloodred, as it were) moon... you get a combination of the two worlds that almost single-handedly restores your faith in the future of the genre. Such is the case with Kurnugia. Taking their name from that of the underworld in Babylonian mythology, Kurnugia is a newer band (in death metal terms, anyway: They formed in 2013). However, their lineup is about as far removed from the concept of "newbies" as one can get. Over the past seven years, their personnel has included members of Nunslaughter, Embalmer, Incantation, Decrepit, Soulless and December Wolves (to name a few). If you've never heard Kurnugia, but are in any way familiar with any of the just-mentioned bands...you are probably wondering if Kurnugia's music could even compare with the brutal onslaught of these acts that spawned them. Let me assure you that their uncomplicated, uncompromising brand of OSDM will exceed your expectations...and that's putting it mildly.

The first time I heard Kurnugia (or heard OF them, or even heard the word itself) was when I purchased their Condemned to Obscurity CD back in March of 2017. It was at a show in Garrett, Indiana which was being headlined by the legendary Embalmer (other acts included Hailshot and Necrotic Disgorgement). A certain Paul Gorefiend, freshly-recruited by Embalmer as their new lead vocalist, was running that band's merch table. After purchasing my Embalmer shirt, Paul and I got to talking and, after we bullshitted a bit about just how many shows we had attended together (albeit without knowing it at the time) back in the old days, he told me about the other band he was currently fronting. To be honest, I probably would have purchased their 2016 EP, Condemned to Obscurity, regardless. Between the logo, the classically-influenced cover art by Raul Gonzalez, the fact that they covered the title track from Swedish gods Grave's 1991 debut, Into the Grave, and perhaps most importantly, the fact that the EP itself was named after a song from the seminal 1993 masterpiece by Montreal's Gorguts (The Erosion of Sanity)... I needed to own this. And it did not disappoint.

I had the pleasure and privilege of seeing Kurnugia perform twice in the following months: The first time was at the Foundry in Lakeland, OH in June of 2017, opening that amazing Vader/Internal Bleeding show...and then in February of 2018 at Cleveland's Now That's Class, playing alongside the legendary Nunslaughter. And now...over two years later...their first full-length album has been unleashed. And let me tell you... Forlorn and Forsaken is about as close to old-school death metal perfection as any album released in the past 10 years has gotten.

Here is the hypnotic death/doom of Incantation swirling in harmony with the straightforward attack of the untouchable-even-to-this-day best from Sweden's big 4 (that's Dismember, Grave, Entombed and Unleashed, in case you were wondering). However, Forlorn and Forsaken is much more than just a nostalgic, deliver-the-goods romp through the best of death gone by. There is a refreshing sense of unpredictability amidst the classicism. Just when you think the band is settling into a catchy, primitive, Autopsy-esque groove...out comes a soaring, melodic guitar solo. You'll be in the midst of becoming acclimated to a layered cacophony (reminiscent of Immolation at their finest)...and then the band opens the gates behind you and launches a lethal, mid-paced thrash attack that is so intense and addictive that it could incite a mosh pit in a nursing home. All this (and more) wrapped up in a production that must have been an incredibly difficult mix to achieve: Unsubtle and completely bludgeoning...yet somehow precise enough that you can always hear every instrument and growl with amazing clarity.

Anyway... I do go on. I recently had the opportunity of chatting with drummer Chris Dora and vocalist Paul Gorefiend about Kurnugia (as well as their numerous other projects), day-to-day existence in Pandemia, and the past, present and future of life in a metallic world.

Jeffrey Stringer

First off, I just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to do this today. Speaking of which...what do you have going on this quite-pleasant-out-but-it's-still-a-virus-ridden-landscape day?

Chris Dora: Well I was off work and in quarantine since March 19th. It was a very weird experience. I headed back to work on May 18th, so sorta back to a normal "new reality" I guess.

Paul Gorefiend: Over the last couple months of this virus BS I did projects around the house like many others, and just caught up on a few things I didn't have time for before. In addition, I overdosed on more documentaries about crime/murder/forensics/war and re-watched a lot of my favorite movies from the ‘70s to ‘90s (since most new movies suck). Also jumped in on some drunk "zoom" conversations with metal friends around the country and world.

If you don't mind my asking, how has the COVID-19 epidemic affected your day-to-day activities in general? How much has it affected you personally?

PG: The main way it affected me is just being annoyed, to be honest. I work in healthcare, so I already had an overload of information from my employer, let alone on TV or anywhere else. One good thing is that I completely stopped watching any news or related press conferences at all, and still don't… (what a mental relief)! This is the most fucked up year I can ever remember, and between this virus, political unrest etc. I'm quite tired of it all, to be honest. I refuse to live in fear and have tried to maintain as much of my regular routine as possible through this. Luckily, both of my bands only took 3-4 weeks off of practice until we were jamming again, so that was also a big relief. I wear my mask when I shop and do what is asked of me in public, not so much because I'm afraid of the virus myself, but out of respect and comfort of the elderly and others.

Personal history question: How did you first enter the extreme metal landscape? As youths, what was your "inroad" to this amazing world? Any particular bands inspire you? Do you have a particular person (brother, uncle, friend) you can blame it on? :-)

CD: Well, I am an only child so I had cousins that were into music: Zeppelin, Rush, Queen, etc, etc. I found Kiss on my own at 5-6 years old and then the whole '80s thing and then at 12-13 years old discovered thrash like Megadeth, S.O.D. and many, many others and we had a good group of friends here in Cleveland that were all like-minded and focused on one thing: METAL!

PG: My dad was always a big music collector, so that's where it started. He's 77 now, so he was into '50s jams and folk rock of the '60s. He had a huge vinyl collection, with the whole setup when I was a kid…Record player, cassettes, 8-track, reel-to-reel, and would jam music while doing shit around the house. My real "inroad" to extreme music started at a super young age. I came up as a BMX rider and general terror as a youth. I started partying back in 6th grade, grew my hair long, and hung out with like-minded friends who followed a similar path. Back then, all the punks, metalheads, skaters, etc. hung out at the mall and a local arcade called "Space Invaders." I'd disappear on my bike all day, meeting different people. There was a park with dirt jumps located behind a local high school where we used to ride and hang. After class let out, all the older metalheads that were already in high school would come back there to drink, smoke, hang with chicks and jam tunes on a boombox. I got to know many of them, who would pass me flyers to all ages shows and hip me to college radio DJs who played "underground" music. So I started taping those shows and listening back during the breaks to find what bands were played. Then I'd find buddies who had cool parents or older siblings who would drive us to those all-ages shows and tours. We had a ton of great local record stores and clubs here, so I would either get driven or ride my bike to buy new shirts, CDs, tapes, etc. And that's where it all started. I really didn't "ease" into it…I had a burning hunger inside for anything extreme and fed it at every opportunity. The heavier, faster, or more aggressive, the better to me! I completely embraced the "essence" of the underground music scene, and global brotherhood that went along with it. The metal lifestyle also fit my defiant attitude perfectly. I'd look up to the other long-haired metalheads around town and see what shirt they were wearing. As I started getting albums, I'd study the band photo, thanks list, etc. Eventually, I started getting heavy into ‘zines and doing mail/trading, writing everyone I could. This opened a whole world up (literally) and allowed me to discover tons of new bands while making many great friends. I thought it was so cool as a kid to be writing people in Holland, Germany, Australia, etc! Many of these people became longtime friends who I still chat with today online. Luckily, I had the opportunity to start working super young, so was able to fund this metal addiction too. My dad owned a private business in a shopping center and the landlord was cool enough to let me sweep and clean for cash. I was maybe 12 years old, but he loved that I wanted to learn responsibility and the value of money…Little did he know what I was spending it on! When I finally turned 16, I got a fake ID right away and grew a goatee to appear older. Now I could get myself to shows, where I was drinking underage, buying beer for high school parties and hanging with the older crowd. I could also start taking my own road trips to shows out of state now. What an exciting time! As the years have passed, my passion for music has never waned, and I'll be a diehard ‘til the end.

On to the subject at hand: Kurnugia. Chris, you are pretty much a Great Old One of the Cleveland death metal landscape (having played in Decrepit, Soulless, etc). How did Kurnugia come together? Like, why was the decision made to start this entirely new band (especially since I believe one of the last incarnations of Decrepit was basically the first Kurnugia lineup)?

CD: Kurnugia was actually started by Brian, our bass player, & Duane Morris, our former guitar player/singer. I was actually still in the band Soulless at the time and did not want to take on any more projects. The Decrepit lineup that you speak of was just for an appearance at a Europrean deathfest. We weren't really a band again, or functioning. It's just ironic that that's the way it turned out later that that would be the Kurnugia line-up.

I have to ask about the band's name. Who came up with that? I realize that naming a band after the concept of an underworld is nothing new...but I can truly say that I had not heard the word Kurnugia before I picked up the Condemned to Obscurity CD.

CD: Duane and Brian came up with the idea of the name and we took the idea from the band Edge of Sanity's demo with the same title.

If Kurnugia had a "mission statement," what would it be?

CD: For me, just to play old-school DM and have fun it with it and do it to the best of our ability and hopefully give people sorta that old-school feeling or excitement that I had as a teenager seeing new bands.

PG: To remain true to ourselves and the musical tastes we all grew up with… And to fly the flag of old school "Abysmal Death Metal" high and proud!

Tell me about the first few years of the band's existence, from inception through the Condemned to Obscurity EP (I'm assuming that was named after the Gorguts song?).

CD: I wasn't there from the VERY beginning, but I can tell you the idea was to create DM that had that dark, evil vibe. And also we were heavily influenced by Swedish DM and American bands such as Immolation and Incantation.

Do you mind if I ask why Kurnugia parted ways with Duane Morris?

CD: Duane is currently working two jobs and supporting a family. Two kids and a wife and there was just simply no time for it. It was a mutual split. No hard feelings or anything like that. He actually has a new project called Vadiat. Check 'em out on Facebook!

Chris, I have to ask a couple of Decrepit questions. I could swear I saw you guys in Cleveland (at Peabodys maybe?) sometime in the mid-2000s. Am I imagining that?

CD: No, you're correct. We attempted a reunion around 2006. We opened for Deicide that year, and that's probably when you saw us. It was short-lived, though. Just didn't work out.

I saw that there is footage online of a Decrepit "reunion" show from 2016. Any other plans for shows from Decrepit?

CD: That was for the first Konyafest and that's why we did it: For Jim. There are no other plans at this time, though. But we'll see what the future holds.

Back to Kurnugia. Once you parted ways with Duane, how did Paul come into the picture? (I know he has been a longtime supporter/fixture in the Mid death metal world.)

CD: We approached Paul with the idea even though he was pretty busy with Embalmer, so we didn't know what he would say. But there really isn't anybody else in town we'd wanna work with. We didn't want to work with any "newbies," and Paul has been a friend and a supporter for over 25 years. He was more than happy to do it, and it's been a great experience so far.

Which brings us back to Mr. Gorefiend. Paul, you are another elder statesman of the Cleveland death metal landscape, as a promoter/performer, etc. How did you first become involved with Kurnugia?

PG: Well, my involvement with Kurnugia started well before I was an actual member. The band was formed by my good friends Duane Morris and Brian Bergeron who had jammed together in Nunslaughter before. They teamed up with guitarist and principal songwriter Larry Kozumplik, who was a childhood friend of Duane's, and Rick Nay on drums to round out the lineup. The musical vision they had was right up my alley, so I would go hang out at practices. When they were recording the first 7" EP. Tribulations of the Abyss, I assisted Duane with designing the layout, and even did some backing vocals on the 2nd song, "Diseased Angels." The recording was done by another good friend, Brian Sekula (ex-Terror, Mortician, etc), so that was a cool and easy experience. They also printed up a bunch of CDR promo versions of the EP, and I sent a ton of them out with Embalmer packages and my personal mail along with their bio at the time. So I did have a hand in helping get the name out there. Shortly after its release, Rick Nay was replaced with my friend Chris Dora on drums (ex-Decrepit, Soulless, Integrity, etc), so I've known all those guys forever. Like Chris said, after the release of their 2nd EP, Condemned to Obscurity, in early 2016, Duane had to leave the band due to having two young children and family commitments. Brian suggested me for the vocal spot and gave me a call. I was immediately interested but had the courtesy to reach out to Duane for his blessing first. Since he did vocals and guitar, I recruited Dylan Gordon to join on 2nd guitar with me. We had previously played together in Embalmer, and knew he'd fit perfect. This brought the lineup from a 4-piece to 5-piece and it's been working out great.

You have the distinction of being a vocalist for TWO of the more prominent death metal bands from your area of the world. How did you get involved with Embalmer? And what was the timeline of that (compared to you joining Kurnugia)? The first time I actually met you was when you were performing with Embalmer in Indiana in 2017, AND I bought a Kurnugia CD off you.

Well, for Embalmer, I was longtime friends with the different members of that band since the '90s. My story of joining is very similar to Kurnugia. I was just a good friend and rabid fan who would hang out at their practices over the years and help them out when I could. As a promoter, I booked them on a lot of shows, including their first appearance in NYC through my connections there. In 2012 they fired their vocalist Rick for being a thief and general scumbag. They had three shows booked that they didn't want to cancel, and since Brian Baxter was my roommate at the time, he asked if I would fill in. He knew that I could do vocals, had most of the lyrics down, and knew the history and vibe of the band. So I went down to practice and started honing my vocal delivery in the "Embalmer" vein…Highs, lows and sick gurgles etc. My intention was not to re-invent the wheel, but simply deliver vocals that did justice to the old recordings and remained true to their sound. I personally hate when bands change vocal styles…from having a deep vocalist to a high vocalist, or you see replacements live that don't sing anything like their predecessors. To me, when you join an existing historic band, you have a responsibility to deliver that style, so that's what I set out to do. After the first three shows with me were well-received, I decided to join full-time. From there, my first full-length album with the band was Emanations from the Crypt, which I wrote all the lyrics and vocal patterns for. The rest is history, and we continue crushing and grinding to this day! So that leaves about a four-year gap between me joining Embalmer and Kurnugia. I remember that Indiana show you are speaking of…And as you can see, I was already selling and promoting Kurnugia material long before joining the band! I'm happy to have developed a good friendship with you since that gig, and it's cool that we actually were at many of the same shows back in the 90s, like Michigan Deathfest III and IV and all the International Metalfests, etc. Now here we are doing an interview together, so it all really does come full circle.

How did the deal with Memento Mori come about? I imagine there was interest from multiple labels.

CD: We were approached by the label after the Condemned EP was out, and Raul liked the band and offered us a cool deal we couldn't pass up. He's an old-school dude also, and understands what we're trying to accomplish.

PG: Yeah, the deal was already was set up before I joined the band. Raul is a total underground maniac, and loved the old school style of the 7" and first EP...So he was anxious to get Kurnugia on the roster and the band agreed. Having labelmates like Cardiac Arrest puts us in good company. As he was planning his 2020 release schedule, he reached out to us for a progress report on the writing. He gave us a firm deadline and said if we could get the material to him, he would put us in the first wave of releases. So we scrambled, got our asses in gear and met the deadline! That resulted in our brand-new full-length, Forlorn and Forsaken, which is available now.

Paul, as a vocalist/lyricist, what is your role in terms of songwriting/arranging with Kurnugia? And how does it compare with your work in Embalmer?

PG: In Kurnugia, I took over all vocal arrangements and lyrics, just like in Embalmer. Before I joined, Brian Bergeron wrote all the lyrics. He was happy that I could come in and be self-sufficient with doing "my job," and I take great pride in it. As far as song arrangements, obviously I have a part in that so the lyric patterns fit correctly. Musically, Larry writes 99% of all the riffs. He's a perfectionist and often likes to have the whole song done before bringing it to practice. He has a home recording studio and does rough recordings on his own to listen back. In the past, this was a pretty lengthy process. With the current lineup, he has become more open to working on songs at practice. Chris has taken on a big chunk of the arrangements now and we all push Larry to show us his new riffs. A lot of times he'll be like "I got a few but they all suck." Then he'll start playing them and we're like "Damn dude, that shit is sick! WTF!?" Now, if Larry has 2-3 riffs for a song that isn't yet complete, we will run through them with different drum patterns at practice, work on rough structure and the songs come together a lot quicker now. It becomes real obvious, like "hey man we need a tail on that," or a transition riff, or an ending / chorus riff, and then he goes back to the lab to work on that. A couple practices later we have a song. So we all continue to evolve and have become a lot more efficient as a writing unit.

As someone who does come up with lyrics for two very different (but both very old-school) death metal bands...how do you decide which words/tales/songs go to which band? Like, do you start out with a definite "these are words for a Kurnugia track," or is it more a matter of just letting the narrative come (and deciding which band it would be appropriate for after it is done)?

PG: I just get in the zone for whichever band I am writing for at the time. Embalmer and Kurnugia are both very different as far as concept. When it is time to write Embalmer, I channel my mind more towards horror, gore, splatter, murder, forensics, rotting corpses and general decay. I spend a lot of time fitting the appropriate words with the patterns. For Kurnugia, I take a mental trip down to more dark concepts such as irreverence, blasphemy, world destruction, religious downfall and visions of the endless abyss. For both bands…I usually start singing the songs at practice without lyrics. Ill just do lows and highs without really saying anything in order to make sure the patterns match up. Once I have a rough vocal structure, I take that home and start writing actual lyrics that fit. I usually do all my lyric writing to rough instrumental practice recordings. For Embalmer, we have an old friend, Stevo, who tapes most of our practices on cassette. In Kurnugia, Larry will bring some overhead mics and a small digital interface and record the instrumentals. Those provide great bases for me to work off of at home, then I bring my ideas back to practice and refine them until they are done to our liking.

A related question: As a vocalist, you are the storyteller and moodsetter (if that's the right word) for the band. And you have the privilege of both spewing forth your own narratives AND performing the lyrics of others. Is there a difference for you, in terms of either prep or performance?

PG: I enjoy both, to be honest. But of course I love singing my own lyrics and patterns better. That just comes with being an artist and creator. On the other hand, I do enjoy singing the previous material for both bands too, since those are songs I loved before joining. So I guess it's a different kind of satisfaction. In a live setting, it's gratifying to be on stage singing songs you used to watch from the crowd…To have great crowd response when you do them justice and correctly is a great feeling. Then, on the other hand, when performing or recording your own stuff, it is you and you alone who is being judged. Not just on delivery, but the lyrics, patterns, etc. There's no one else to blame if it sucks! "Well I didn't write that, dude." If you put your time in and do a great job, you're recognized and rewarded for it...but if it is cheesy or corny, it's all on you.

Chris, as a drummer, what is your role in terms of songwriting/arranging with Kurnugia? And how does it compare with your work in Decrepit and Soulless (especially since the melodic death-thrash of Soulless is quite different from the other two, I feel)?

CD: As you said, musically the bands are different, but the same mentality applies for me. I have always loved thrash and DM, especially the Death-Thrash style. I am good at composing songs or putting riffs together once they're written, and I have come up with riffs myself in the past. And of course putting drums to them, making them come alive. I've always enjoyed the creative process.

Speaking of Soulless, I saw you guys open for Deceased at the Agora in 2009. You guys ruled. What is the current state of Soulless?

CD: Soulless at this time is defunct. We do have some songs recorded that would've been our last album, but there are no lyrics or vocals in it yet. Hopefully someday it will see the light of day/darkness!

Does Kurnugia have any musical "rule" in terms of what songs/riffs stay, and which ones are given the boot? (I always laugh when I think of Jeff Hanneman talking about Slayer's cardinal rule: "No happy riffs.")

CD: I guess you can say we have that same old-school mentality! Larry has what he calls his "dumpster of riffs" because he's been writing and composing for years and this is really his first real band so everything he's brought to the table so far has always been good and I think we're all on the same page, musically.

PG: Well, by this point Kurnugia has a pretty defined writing style and vision, but I wouldn't say there are necessarily "rules" when we write that don't already come natural to us. I guess we just try not to deviate much from the essence of what the band is. There is room to get creative with different types of riffs that fit the dark style, but we will never venture into black metal-style riffing or vocals. Our influences range from classic US death metal to European/Scandinavian/Australian death metal, so all that plays into our overall sound. I guess if there is one rule…it is to take influence from the music we grew up on without becoming one of the many "clone" bands that are out there today. We will never be a total Entombed or Incantation rip-off, but you will hear elements of those bands, Immolation, Grave, Demigod, Baphomet, etc. in our music. Personally, I am over the HM2 sound, and feel too many bands latched on and saturated that tone for me. I appreciate the original bands and a few new ones who do it well, but the rest are just part of a larger trend that we just aren't into. Same thing with Incantation. They will always be one of our favorite bands and good personal friends. But while I appreciate stuff like Dead Congregation and Burial Invocation, there are far too many others that just completely rip them off. Kind of like Suffocation clones in the '90s…I get why someone in their 20s etc. would want to make a band like that, but it doesn't translate to people like us the same way, who were there when it was actually going on. But in the end, it's all metal, so to each their own!

Tell me about what goes into a Kurnugia recording, production-wise. I imagine it's an interesting challenge...because one of the attributes of classic, old-school death metal is a more raw, primitive sound...yet you also want it to be of highest quality possible. Both the Condemned EP and the new record seem to have found the perfect balance between clean and dirty, death metal barbarism.

CD: For me I have always liked a polished, over-the-top drum production. It almost has to be in this kind of music if you want it to be heard on the recording. I think the rawness you speak of just comes with the writing and our approach to the music: We're old-school dudes and that's how it comes out of us.

PG: You are correct here. We do spend a lot of time honing our sound to fit the music appropriately. After all, the production you choose is what sets the "vibe" for your band. We have old-school tastes, but we aren't gonna put out some recording that sounds like it was recorded through headphones and a boombox for the sake of rawness. On the other hand, we aren't a tech-death band either who needs super-pristine production or a bunch of pro-tools manipulation. It starts with a great producer to help find that balance, and we definitely have that with Noah Buchanan / Mercinary Studios. He is the current guitar player in Nunslaughter and shares the studio with some of the guys in Midnight. He knows all kinds of underground music and how to match the production to the client. He's done everything from Midnight, Ringworm and Embalmer records, to other punk, nu-metal, hardcore, ambient, powerviolence projects, etc. Quite frankly, he is the fucking man, and knows how to make any extreme band sound their best. On top of that, he's one of the easiest dudes to work with and the studio is 100% top notch.

What goes into a Kurnugia album cover? What kind of guidance do you give artists like Raul and Mark? Do you guys work together closely? Or just let them have at it? (I totally dig the new album cover.)

CD: Thanks. To be honest, both pieces we have used were things that were already complete and the artists were selling. We were looking and just got lucky! Mark is a great artist and his style/taste just fits us perfect!

PG: For cover artwork, we try to use color schemes that are bright and vibrant that still give off a dark vibe. So for Condemned to Obscurity, the artwork turned out amazing, featuring a lot of yellows, reds and oranges. Raul captured the theme perfectly, creating an abysmal landscape that didn't focus around black and grey. For our new album, Forlorn and Forsaken, we were happy to work with Mark / Mindrape art. He created the perfect cover art to use with our lyrical themes. This time, it focuses more on sick shades of green and earth tones, but still stays far away from black and grey. This artwork shows the desolate afterlife landscape that lays beyond the central death-skull biting the bloody scales of judgement. The sky is filled with dreary, sulfuric clouds filled with the stench of burning souls!

As warriors in the extreme metal landscape for three decades now, can you guys say how audiences have changed over the years? I would imagine that, although there are several ancient fans (like myself) at Kurnugia shows, the audience makeup/behavior is a little different than it was back in the day?

CD: Yes, you'll always have the "Ancient" fans, I think. LOL! But also there are a lotta new, younger kids getting into stuff, and it's very good to see. It's refreshing and inspiring.

PG: There is no denying that the scene, and audiences in general, are a lot different these days, in both positive and negative ways. Having been there, I personally think things were a lot more genuine and pure back in the 90s. There was little to no internet, and people worked a lot harder for the music they loved and shows they went to. When you were at a gig, everyone appreciated the moment together of what a concert was meant to be. Your 100% attention was spent either enjoying the performance or developing personal relationships hanging out with your friends. Didn't have to worry about 400 people at a large show holding up cell phones watching the show through a screen or tagging themselves in selfies. While social media and the internet has made music so much more accessible, it has had the opposite effect as far as interest in music goes, sense of brotherhood or belonging to the scene. Emails and messages are cool…but not as personal as someone writing you a letter back in their own handwriting and taking the effort to mail it to you. So I see it from both ends…I loved taking a chance on bands and music back in the day based on cool logo, cover art, or good reviews in a 'zine I respected. Nowadays, many people don't listen to an album all the way through, and that causes some of the magic to be lost, in my opinion. Many albums are structured with a certain flow…with a mix of fast and slow songs to make an overall feel. Today, someone is going to look at your band photo or album cover, click your promo link on YouTube and give you 1.7 seconds of their attention to decide if they like you or not. Just not the way music was ever meant to be listened to. On the other hand, the fact that you can preview songs before you buy saves you from blindly buying a bunch of shitty albums and demos like back in the day. Another thing that was cool about the older scene is that people were thicker skinned, didn't get offended so easily and actually had a sense of humor. These days, you really have to watch what you say, do and put on your shirts for fear of offending someone. Bands like M.O.D., Anal Cunt, Carnivore and The Mentors would never fly today as new bands. Believe what you want, but I am 100% against censorship of any kind. Don't like something? Just don't listen to it or support it…it's really that simple. It was also cooler when people had disagreements, they would fight it out, be grown-ups and move on with their lives. Now, people talk behind a computer and would sue you in a heartbeat. Don't get me wrong…there are plenty of young bands and die-hard fans out there who "get it" and truly try to preserve the true metal/extreme underground attitude and sound. They have my 100% respect! No one can help when they are born, and you do the best you can in the scene you inherit. Tons of great stuff out there to discover, and it is going to appeal to people differently depending on what their experiences are. If a younger fan out there is totally hyped on Blood Incantation, Sanguisugabogg, Necrot, etc. and it drives them into this lifestyle, that is cool as fuck. There will always be posers and trendy sheep out there, but they're always easy to spot!

Related to the above question: I'm not sure how many shows you guys have played/attended up here in Michigan, but how does the scene up here compare with your home turf? And how has that changed over the years? (It seems to me the Cleveland contingent has always been strong musically, but Michigan has had its ups and downs. I do feel the current crop of Michigan bands/fans is stronger than it's ever been.)

CD: I went to Michigan Death Fest II and III, and a few other one-offs over the years, and played there with pretty much all of my past bands. As far as the Cleveland scene, I think we have always been very fortunate to have a good thriving scene; plenty of clubs and venues, plenty of good musicians. And we're always lucky to have bands make Cleveland a stop on their tours, especially back in the day!

PG My first show up that way was Michigan Deathfest III. Great fest with Gorguts headlining for Erosion of Sanity, Broken Hope on Bowels of Repugnance, Embalmer for There was Blood Everywhere, and other awesome ultra UG bands like Morpheus Descends, Contagion, Subconscious, Lucifer's Hammer, etc. From that show on, I went to all of Metal Mom's fests until like 2000 and a few other shows in the Toledo / Michigan scene for bands like Gutted, Exploding Zombies, Descendent, Summon, etc. Also attended some larger tours at Blondies, Harpos ,etc. to see bands like Cannibal Corpse a 2nd time. The scenes historically have been pretty similar, and while I think Cleveland may have had a slight edge on regular shows and amount of bands in the '90s, Michigan has definitely seen a resurgence. Now, a lot of shows are hitting the Detroit area instead of here. Overall, the whole scene everywhere is suffering from "youtube-itis". Don't think local shows with 150 people are coming back anytime soon, but it just makes you appreciate the people who do regularly come out that much more. Some Michigan bands I enjoy or are friends with past and present (off the top of my head) are Repulsion, Temple of Void, Centenary, Lucifer's Hammer, Amputist, Saprogenic, Gutrot, Syphilic, Mutilated, Summon, Inebriated, Isenblast, TBDM, Acid Witch and Shit Life. Cleveland bands I enjoy or are friends with past and present (other than my own) are Terror, Shed the Skin, Decrepit, Blood of Christ, Nunslaughter, Hemdale, Vadiat, Odious Sanction, Ringworm, Sodomized, Axioma, Escalation Anger, Soulless, Destructor, Integrity, (216), Schnauzer, Pillars, Deathcrawl, Wretch, Shok Paris, Blood Coven, From the Depths, Dead of Night, Curse of Denial, Mushroomhead, Bowel, Caveman, State of Conviction, Minch, Domestic Crisis, Dark Century, Stagnated, and the list goes on. Check some of these bands out and always support your local scene!

What is your favorite movie and why? (If you can't narrow it to one, how about your favorite three?)

CD: I think every metal guy is a fan of horror movies, which I am, but I also love comedies. So I'm gonna say: The Exorcist, Animal House and Office Space.

PG: I love action and horror movies the most. For mainstream horror, I am partial to the Hellraiser series (first 4). Underground horror, I like Phantasm, Gates of Hell, Dead Alive, Bad Taste, Night of the Living Dead, etc. For action movies I love the '80s/'90s classics from Steven Seagal (first 8 or 10 movies), Arnold (Commando, Predator, etc), Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones, Clear and Present Danger, Air Force One, etc). I like Star Wars too (original movies) but not as big of a rabid nut as others. Also some classic comedies like Naked Gun, Beverly Hills Cop, Caddy Shack, Happy Gilmore etc. Sorry, that's more than three. I really don't get into new movies since they're mostly shitty remakes or Marvel comics. Anything else is all CGI special effects with little plot, crappy soundtrack or some underlying social message I'm not interested in.

Thanks again for your time, and for the great music. Any final words?

CD: I'll keep it short and sweet, but thanks again for the interview and the interest in Kurnugia and I hope everyone enjoys reading this. Pick our album up now on Memento Mori Records! METAL!!!!!!!!

PG: First of all, thanks a lot for this interview, bro! Very cool and well-thought-out questions. Remember that no matter what your life views are, music is what always brings us together. Support your scene and look out for your friends. Be a good human being and cool to others, and always respect other people's tastes and viewpoints. Lastly, always keep true to yourself, and stay sick and underground!

Entered: 8/9/2020 9:20:26 AM

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