Relentless Angelic Cadavers
CoC chats with Gene Palubicki of Angelcorpse
by: Paul Schwarz
As far as I can see, one of the most intense, violent, brutal and just plain unrelenting acts to emerge from the death metal scene in the last five years is Angelcorpse. Their focus on creating death metal which is as pure in its violent force as _Covenant_ (Morbid Angel) or _Legion_ (Deicide) but also not a meaningless, bludgeoning blur of low-tuned guitars and uncharacteristic vocals, makes them one of the few death metal bands around today who are truly a force to be reckoned with. They have just released their third album, the aptly titled _The Inexorable_, and it continues where last year's _Exterminate_ left off, shifting topics and adding dynamics but essentially preserving Angelcorpse as the musical equivalent to "60 tonnes of steel rolling across the battlefield", in the words of another Osmose artist. So, grab _The Inexorable_, start the warpath with "Stormgods Unbound", and find out the ideas which conflagrated to create such a testament to unrelenting extremity.

CoC: What led you to choose _The Inexorable_ as the title for the new album?

Gene Palubicki: Well, we wanted that for the title because -- since it is the third album and we're -continuing- what we started with [previous albums] but adding new elements with each album -- we've done the same thing with this album. We've kept everything that we've always done and we've just added more dynamics to it, you know, and I thought the title of _The Inexorable_ had a really ominous sound. Plus, it means like relentless, merciless, unforgiving, unyielding. So I thought that worked really good. Plus, it a little more vaguely fits in with the cover concept as well. The expansion of the demonic forces into more of a universal thing instead of a very worldly type visual that was on our last album.

CoC: You have changed the cover artwork and in general on the album in terms of song titles it's moving away from the modern, battle sort of lyrics and into some slightly more demonic, supernatural, spiritual things?

GP: Right, so that way it's more universally encompassing. Instead of just being, you know, your next door neighbour; it is more of a universal approach. That [way] it is not just so singular.

CoC: So that was an intention, to sort of expand...?

GP: Well yeah, I mean, for the purpose of lyrics and topics why should we repeat ourselves? Surely ideas should push forward, move on to bigger things. For ourselves personally, we've already conquered all the ground that we needed to with the topics and everything that we did on our previous albums. Now, we have new ground to cover, and in the future it'll be the same way, we'll have something, we'll try to come up with something that goes beyond, or at least along a somewhat expanded variation of what we've already done. So, I mean, lyrically and musically we've tried to evolve it together.

CoC: Musically-wise, what do you think you, Angelcorpse, contribute specifically to the death metal scene, what do you think you have which is either new or which is needed in the present day scene?

GP: I think [the music of Angelcorpse] has a stronger mix of ideas within songs, because a lot of death metal, black metal, everything nowadays is very genre-oriented, and it kind of focuses on one point and beats it into the ground. You know, some bands will just have an entire album where every song is basically a reiteration of every other song. And some people really enjoy that, you know, that non-stop -drone- of sound throughout an album which -- I mean I can -appreciate- that, but for my own writing of music I want to have something that has powerful ideas, but ideas that vary, like variations on a theme. The theme is to create overpowering death metal, but you don't have to just make it a blur all the time. You can still have gigantic, powerful riffs, but it doesn't have to be a blur all the time, and that's how we experimented on this album. I think that the new dynamic that we have on the new album is the fact that we don't have riffs that are just a constant blur, there's more articulated rhythms on this one which are somewhat different and in some cases non-existent on some of our previous albums. But the point still comes across just as strong.

CoC: I see what you're saying, I mean with stuff like "Begotten (Through Blood & Flame)" and "Wolflust" things are more pronounced, they're less whirlwind than some of the songs on _Exterminate_ were. So that has added some definition, I think, and makes the structure as an album slightly better. Talking again about lyrics, do you think spiritual or political beliefs of yours or any other member's, in your actual lives, affect what you write for Angelcorpse, or are you kind of detached from your own personal feelings when you're writing lyrics?

GP: Well, I don't write the lyrics, I mean I haven't written lyrics for any of the stuff. As far as that goes, it's pretty much between me and Pete [Helmkamp, vocalist]. We'll come up with maybe a topic, then he'll come up with some lyrics to go -to- that topic. You know, but in most cases with lyrics, he'll just come up with his own stuff. That's pretty much how it goes. But no, I wouldn't say we're detached at all, you know, it's not just -- I mean, there's definitely a lot of personal emotion involved, with what the lyrics are about. You know, it's not just a fantasy excursion into lyric writing just for the sake of having words to go over the music.

CoC: In terms of label, are you happy with Osmose Productions, do you feel they have done well for you so far and do you intend to stay with them for the next album, and the album after that, etceteras?

GP: Well, up to this point, the relationship with Osmose has been really good. We've had problems with American distribution, so for the American and Canadian release [of _The Inexorable_] we've moved to the Chicago-based Olympic Records. So, we hope that works better for us over here, especially for facilitating, you know, better promotion for a tour if we do one, whereas previously that did not exist.

CoC: You didn't get tour support?

GP: Well, we got tour support, but it was more of the promotional thing for America [that was the problem]. The Osmose office in America wasn't really capable of the type of things that we needed to have. So there was no bad blood there, but we have made the move, for the licensing, to Olympic Records for the US and Canada. So now we have a good relationship with both labels.

CoC: Cool. Neither of them are worried about the fact that you're on different labels in different territories, then?

GP: No.

CoC: For you personally, then, what inspired you, or drives you to create music for Angelcorpse, because in all likelihood it is not a band you're going to be able to live off, like a pop band could. So, what in particular drives you to spend your free time doing this kind of music and what you do specifically in Angelcorpse?

GP: Well, I've always been into this kind of stuff, ever since about '85 or '86 when I picked up a guitar and started listening to metal records. I was always really wrapped up in the sound of... you know, right off the top it was Judas Priest. That was one of the very first metal bands that I listened to and also hand-in-hand with that was Iron Maiden. But then beyond that it was around the time of _Hell Awaits_ and _Reign in Blood_ [both Slayer]...

CoC: _Seven Churches_ [Possessed]?

GP: Of course _Seven Churches_ and what not. Those came out and I really liked the sound of the guitar played with just that really fast picking, making that kind of really ominous <mimics fast palm muted picking sound>. That speed picking type sound.

CoC: Yeah, thrash picking.

GP: Yeah, -thrash picking- or whatever. I don't know, I mean, I suppose you could say <laughs> it -possessed- me or whatever, but then again at the same time I was always into -- I mean, I suppose if you could call Judas Priest and Iron Maiden "the more melodic bands".

CoC: Of metal.

GP: And I like that stuff equally as much as I like the thrashing stuff. That's why with a lot of the stuff I write I try to have it as speed oriented and blazing as possible, but yet in its own way, in its own unique Angelcorpse way, I try to make it melodic in its own sense.

CoC: You have a little melodic definition behind there.

GP: Yeah.

CoC: Which is something that Deicide or Suffocation don't actually aim to do.

GP: Right, that's exactly it. Which would be how we would differ from about the majority of American death metal, which -- history has shown that American death metal is very anti-melodic.

CoC: Why have you chosen, more or less constantly, to record at Morrisound? Not that I think it's a bad studio, but out of curiosity: is it the history of the place, the albums that have been recorded there, or is it just a good studio?

GP: Well, like in the case of the guy that we worked with, Jim Morris -- I mean for the second album, _Exterminate_. After we recorded the first album -- we recorded it in Kansas City, which was a -fucking- inferior studio, and the engineer was atrocious as well, but we didn't have a choice then. But for the second album we had a better budget, so we're like, "Well, what can we do?" But, then again, we were from Kansas City, I mean, where did we know to find anywhere? But I knew people, I had friends down here [in Tampa], and of course people are going to say, "Yeah, there's Morrisound, you can do good stuff there", and of course I'm familiar with the place. This time around we did it again because here, in the city, for doing this kind of record with people who have any kind of experience at all doing this kind of record, Morrisound really is the only place because they have the two inch tape machine, which is -crucially- important in my opinion; to be able to record on two inch tape. And none of the other studios around really have that same kind of capability.

CoC: I know very little about studios; what is the difference between two inch tape and other tape?

GP: Well, physically you can look at it as a one inch tape to a two inch tape: the one inch tape doesn't have as much space on it as the two inch tape. So each individual strip of a track has more room to breathe on a two inch tape. So therefore you can get -bigger- sounds on a two inch tape, whereas on smaller stuff and even smaller yet on an A-Dat tape, basically your sound begins to shrink a little bit, you know what I'm saying?

CoC: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. Can you ever see Angelcorpse changing your sound to include distinctly less aggressive elements like keyboards or female vocals or particularly melodic or harmonic guitar solos, or is Angelcorpse any kind of deliberate attempt to avoid these kind of things?

GP: It's always been a deliberate attempt to avoid those kinds of things. I mean, if we've done three albums and we've been around for almost five years, you know there's never even been a hint of that kind of element in our music at all. I mean, someone would have to almost be a fool to consider that we ever would. Either that or they have wishful thinking that we'd be a different type of band. Maybe some people don't like us 'cause we don't have those elements, you know, which [means] they're not fans for us then.

CoC: [They'd be] missing the point?

GP: No, I mean, if they want that stuff, if they enjoy that, they can find that from another band. That's not our prerogative. The sound that we make is the sound that we want people to hear, and if people don't want to hear it then they just won't listen to us. But we're not interested in what opinions people have of what we're doing and what we're not doing. We're only going to do what we think are the best songs, and that's where it stops.

CoC: So the kind of music that you're doing is what you consider to be the best kind of music that you could do?

GP: The best kind of music that I'd want to write.

CoC: Do you believe there is any kind of ideology in metal, like when people have to dress, act and think in a certain way to listen to metal, do you think that has any sort of relevance particularly?

GP: Well, I think there is definitely a type of personality that somebody needs to really be attracted to this kind of music at all. I mean, if you come from a very sheltered lifestyle or a -self-imposed- sheltered lifestyle, you may not have the same kind of fire to want to do something that's really aggressive. You know, whereas if, I don't know, you choose a lifestyle that's not so tamed and housebroken, it adds to your personality to give you an understanding of the kind of music you want to write. I mean, when you try to put together the kind of ideas of what you have for a lifestyle and what you'd write as music -- which are pretty unrelated, but they do relate in that one is going to affect the personality for anything you're going to create. So when it comes to music it's going to come out in what you're doing.

CoC: To an extent, if you're not angry, then there's no reason for you to write aggressive music or aggressive lyrics?

GP: Well, in some cases I don't even think it's really like that so much -- you know, there can definitely be an anger element but it doesn't even really have to come from that. I mean, aggression doesn't absolutely have to mean anger. It's just... it's a fire thing, you know, if you got the fire, if you're fired up about doing something that's really over the top and powerful, then that's what you're going to do and you're going to be able to do it, 'cause you're going to write something that you're understanding. If you're trying to write something that doesn't suit your personality, you're not going to be able to do it right, because through the process of writing something, you're going to become confused 'cause you're stepping into unfamiliar waters.

CoC: To conclude, if there's anything in particular you'd like to say about the album or about your touring or your band, then you're welcome to do that now.

GP: Well, we definitely hope to get some kind of a US and Canadian tour definitely by the beginning of next year. We don't have anything concrete yet, but we definitely hope to play all the places in Canada we played before, and at least as many as we can. On the last tour with Cannibal Corpse, we did, I think, about eight or nine dates in Canada. It was central, west and east: we even did Saskatoon and Winnipeg, and all of them were really great shows, so we hope we can get to all of those places again.

CoC: Any last words for fans of the band who may not have picked up _The Inexorable_ yet?

GP: ... Because it's not even released yet, it doesn't even come out for a couple of days <laughs>, nobody would have picked it up yet.

CoC: That's a point, but for the purpose of this interview which will come out a few weeks after the record does...

GP: Everything we've done musically, and what we've always talked about that we do, the new album is exactly all of it. Everything that our music has promised and anything that we have said and done, this new album is basically it. It's the next step, it's the new record. Everything they could've expected is there.

(article submitted 12/10/1999)

1/31/2008 P Schwarz Angelcorpse: How to Philosophise With a Hammergod
11/17/1997 A Wasylyk Angelcorpse: Hammer of Metal
8/4/2007 J Montague 4 Angelcorpse - Of Lucifer and Lightning
3/13/2001 P Schwarz 8 Angelcorpse - Iron, Blood and Blasphemy
12/9/1999 P Azevedo 8 Angelcorpse - The Inexorable
9/1/1998 P Schwarz 9 Angelcorpse - Exterminate
2/4/1997 S Hoeltzel 8 Angelcorpse - Hammer of Gods
1/15/2000 P Azevedo Marduk / Angelcorpse / Enthroned Night of the Living Corpses
1/15/2000 M Noll Cannibal Corpse / Marduk / Angelcorpse / Aeternus / Defleshed Two Corpses, One God and No Flesh
6/7/1998 P Schwarz Immortal / Angelcorpse / Desecration London's Underworld Holocaust
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