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A Dirty Dozen with KYLE RASMUSSEN from VITRIOL – September 2019

| 3 September 2019 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Portland death metal band VITRIOL is premiering their new song and music video for “I Drown Nightly” today with Kerrang! The track is off of the band’s debut full-length album To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice out on September 6th via Century Media Records.” We get the guitarist / vocalist Kyle to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Thanks for the great question to start us off. It was very important to us that we utilized every ounce of space at our disposal, both sonically and creatively. It is an extremely dense album. I think at a glance our music can be dismissed by being superficially perceived as “tech death”. This was the most common obstacle early in our career. In a time where people are touting the primacy of simplicity in death metal it can be hard to grab the community’s ear with such a convoluted style. But I believe that anyone who chooses to interact with our music in an honest way will find the product of a strong devotion to extreme heavy metal, and that our technical approach is meant to overwhelm the listener, not to dazzle. It is hard for the listener to separate the ego from the playing at times. I urge the listener to concern themselves with why Vitriol is, not what Vitriol is.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I had a step-father sit me down in front of Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All when I was six years old. Hearing “The Four Horsemen” is one of my earliest and most impacting memories. I knew I wanted to play guitar in a metal band from then on.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Metallica was my favorite band for many years. Slayer, Testament, Ozzy (especially the Tribute album with Randy) all served as my foundational influences. Being of lower economic means I didn’t access to the internet for some time. I became attached to the heavier bands I could source on the radio at the time, Slipknot, KoRn, etc. It wasn’t until I was thirteen that I discovered death metal. Seventeen years later and it’s still my primary obsession.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Classic influences: Hate Eternal, Immolation, Angelcorpse, Nile, and Marduk.

Modern influences: Sammath, Adversarial, Dead Congregation, Rebaelliun, and Internal Suffering.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

This is by far the most difficult question I’ve been confronted with in an interview yet, haha. There are so many incredible artists out there, and so many reasons to collaborate: to celebrate a lifelong influence, to elevate an under-represented artist, to fold someone in who simply has something valuable to contribute. For the sake of this interview let me choose someone that is topical to Vitriol, Dylan Walker of Full of Hell is a fucking psycho. My biggest gripe in the world of extreme metal vocals is the general lack of emotion. I’m sure this has to do with some flimsy conflation with emotional vulnerability and the strength that metal is supposed to promote, but that’s wrong and stupid. Dylan sounds like he’s suffering a schizophrenic episode rather than performing in a metal band. I back that super hard.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I suppose that depends on how familiar the person is with the genre. It’s easy to describe Vitriol as a band that is trying to carry the torch for the more extreme death metal bands from the 90’s. To say that we sound a bit like Hate Eternal and Immolation on angel dust wouldn’t be entirely inaccurate. Luckily I have yet to see a comparison that has confused me. The most common dismissal we’ll receive from those who are principally opposed to more convoluted music is “uninspired tech death”. That’s my favorite catch phrase I see people lob at anyone playing more than three power chords.

7. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Admittedly we don’t get a lot of recreational time in. When the three (now four) of us are together it is almost always time to work, and if it isn’t, we’ll find something to work on. I believe that carrying that philosophy with us up to this point is what has allowed us to secure the opportunities that have been presented to us.

8. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

I saw Rob Vigna at NAMM early this year. He was busy representing ESP so I didn’t feel comfortable approaching, but he’s certainly a personal guitar hero of mine. Generally speaking I’m unaffected by someone’s celebrity.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

For me, and I imagine for others who feel compelled to make music, it’s simply the opportunity to do what we’re naturally driven to do, without the constraint of a forty hour a week obligation interfering with that. Music is popularly viewed as a hobby, and if you have the privilege to do it professionally then you lucked on “not having a real job”. That is only true if you approach your music like a burnout idiot. My active commitments to Vitriol far exceed that of forty hours a week. Leaving my past career has afforded me the time to devote the energy that Vitriol demands of me. I would love to get into directing films.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

In my time so far being interviewed in support of To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice I’m a bit surprised by how few of the questions have been in reference to the music itself. I haven’t received any questions regarding a specific song, lyrical content, post production element, the mix or master… These are all questions that many musicians find to be engaging and rewarding for both the artist and the reader. Not digging into the content misses the opportunity for a deeper understanding of the album’s intent and delivery. What is my favorite track from “To Bathe…”? “Crowned in Retaliation.” It serves as the perfect ‘trailer’ for Vitriol’s sound. It checks all of the boxes in terms of speed, relentlessness, composition, brief forays into melody, without departing too far from the core of our sound. It also features a guest vocal from a friend a respected peer, Naas Alcameth (Nightbringer, Akhlys, Aoratos, Bestia Arcana, Excommunion). A specifically annoying question has yet to surface, but I will say that I have little interest in answering “reality show” type questions that are more geared toward representing a persona than shedding light on a band and their music. I’d encourage more journalists to give their reader base more credit. It is very possible they’re more interested in why their favorite lyricist titled their favorite song in such a way over what their favorite weekend activity is.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I would not have waited so long to release material. I kept “The Parting of a Neck” under wraps for six years after its mix and master was complete due to me believing it to not be heavy enough. Six years later we put that song on the CD version of Pain Will Define Their Death as an afterthought and shot a play through video for it that was even more of an afterthought. That play through video of a six year old song launched our career. My advice? Not sure if what you have is good enough? Let the world decide for you and take it in stride.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Gorguts’ Obscura so I can eat whatever drugs Luc Lemay was obviously frying on. That album is just so patently fucking strange I want to know what was going on in that studio and how the decision making process went down. What a bizarre and wonderful gem in death metal’s horrible crown.



Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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