One of the most rewarding things is when new and promising bands fall into your lap. Canadian death metal troupe Xenocide did just do that, drop in unannounced. Interview answered by Tabreez Azad (Guitars/Vocals/Lyricist). Anders Ekdahl ©2011
Before you contacted me I didn’t even know that Xenocide existed. What have you been up to prior to me getting to hear about you?
-We’ve been quite busy as a band, although Xenocide has been around since late 2008, we have been through quite a few line-up changes, you know, just gathering the right people to accomplish the task at hand. We recorded our first demo in December 2010, our 2nd demo (“Forgotten Bloodlines & Empty Oaths) was recorded in February of 2011. Since February we’ve just been practicing and gearing up to head into the studio and also playing shows. We just finished tracking all the guitars, only vocals remain.
Your death metal seems to be both melodic and brutal. How do you explain your sound?
-Although the 2nd demo “Forgotten Bloodlines and Empty Oaths” has its melodic sides, I can say with honesty that the rest of our catalog on the upcoming album is not as melodic (although we do have some catchy/melodic riffs/sections sprinkled throughout the album, just not as blatant). We used that song as a test to see if we can actually record the stuff we write. In terms of explaining Xenocide’s sound, I’d say it’s a mixture between Decapitated, Origin and Amon Amarth with some Lamb of God influences thrown in. Expect lots of grooves that you can mosh to.
Recently I’ve discovered a whole new side to the Canadian metal scene not known to me before. With the strange population density that is Canada how do you go about building a metal scene and attain followers?
-That really is the hard part about metal, you can have a great set of songs and a great bunch of people to play with, but without a following/connections, it’s next to impossible to get shows here in Vancouver. There aren’t very many venues that allow this type of music either, and the ones that do charge ridiculous prices to rent out the venue itself. Without a promoter it’s quite difficult to line up shows. In terms of Xenocide’s approach, we just try our best to go out there and introduce as many people to our music as possible, whether via internet, word of mouth or just talking to random people on the street.
With cities like Toronto and Montreal on one side and Vancouver and Edmonton on the other you have pretty strong metal scenes but there are tons of small tons in-between that are starving for metal. Are these places just as important in reaching when you tour?
-Absolutely. I don’t speak for the band when I say this, but I feel that playing shows in smaller venues, and to that effect, smaller towns, have a lot more energy and groove. That isn’t to say playing bigger shows is in some way bad, I love the feeling when you’re playing a super small stage with 20 people just going nuts in the pit. I’d really like to hit up the small towns on our way out east when we tour, one small city I look forward to playing is Kingston in Ontario where I spent a summer when I was in the Air Force.
With the easy access to internet you can spread your music across the globe just sitting in front of your computer. How much effort to you put into promoting the band world-wide?
-Unfortunately, we have yet to get to that stage. We’ve been very busy with a hectic schedule this last month just tracking and recording in the studio, and the months before that we were basically practicing and fine tuning our music in order to prepare for the studio while playing shows on the side. Our next step is to get together a press kit and start planning out how to promote this to a global audience. I’m humbled to live in the technology age where your ideas can be shared with someone halfway across the world in mere seconds.
With no album out and only a demo it must be hard to get any serious tours going. Is playing your home crowd enough to establish a viable and workable sound? Or do you only fine tune the sound in rehearsal?
-Both. We use rehearsals to get tighter as a band, it’s one thing to be able to play 32nd notes @ 140bpm super clean, it’s another when you try to play it along to 3 other instruments and vocals going at the same time. We use shows to test what we’ve tried at rehearsals, if it doesn’t work we fine tune it for the next show. It was hard to get much attention when we first started, no one took us seriously and that’s understandable because we had no material to showcase our talents and feats. Once we met up w/ the guys in Archspire (local Vancouver Death Metal band), word of Xenocide started to get out there. Our ex-bassist Shawn Hillman now plays in 2 well established bands (Kymatica and Makaria), he’s also been getting the word out.
With being death metal come certain aesthetic rules. Do you abide to any of them or do you walk a path untrodden?
-Once again, I’d say a bit of both. The reason I started playing Death Metal, and I’m pretty sure I’m paraphrasing Pat O’Brein of Cannibal Corpse here, is that there are no true “boundaries” in death metal. You play what you want to play and it usually sounds good. I also got into this genre because of the range you have, tempo changes are what I’m all about and it shows in Xenocide. We abide to the rule that it has to be heavy and it has to be headbang-able; if you can’t headbang to it something’s wrong. We are also not fans of the “big gay chorus” that seems to be becoming prevalent these days.
Over the years death metal has evolved to be not just one specific sound. Is there any specific death metal sound that means more to you than the other?
-Cleanliness. Although I have gotten used to the tones heard in Death Metal (example: “Dechristianize” by Vital Remains, when I first heard that album, I couldn’t differentiate between the drums or guitars, they all sounded like a drone of noise to me). I can see how that would add to the soundscape, i.e. making it harder to hear each instrument reflecting the chaos inherent in the music. At the time, I thought that was somewhat the norm in the industry.
-Then I heard “Planetary Duality” by The Faceless and everything changed. Also hearing the recordings of the guys in Archspire made me appreciate clean tones more. I love when you can hear every note in its glory. It also helped me become a better musician; clean tones mean you have to be able to play clean as well.
Can we speak of a specific Canadian death metal sound, and what would that be?
-Not sure if I can directly answer that one. I really liked the sound/style of Cryptopsy from out east, the guys in Kataklysm as well have a very deep sound (specifically on their last album) but still comes off as “clean”. If I had to choose a band that would be described as “Canadian Death Metal” from the West Coast, I’d say the guys from Lokrendis and Archspire. Also, the crazy bastards from Kataplexis (Calgary), we had the pleasure of playing with those guys one night, my jaw was on the floor the whole time those guys were on stage.
It might be too early, seeing as you’re working on it right now, but what can we expect from the forthcoming album?
-This one’s a concept album, I wrote the majority of it starting around 2009 and it’s really been about accumulating the right guys into the band to help me achieve the vision that is “Galactic Oppression”. This album has a song for everyone, and I don’t say that for the sake of saying it, each song stands on its own because we are still refining our style/sound so this album is pretty “open”.
-On the concept side of things, this album tells the story of the “Deadfall” who, to keep it in a nutshell, are a telepathic space faring race that exist in all 11 dimensions (they look like giant arachnids in our 4 dimensional reality), and yes, they have the ability to control time and space itself.
-Their goal is clear: to ascend past the 11th dimension and exist outside the Universe itself, and the way they go about doing that is taking over the Galaxy and harvesting souls. The lyrics were definitely one of the high points on this album and I had a blast penning it all together. If any metal fans out there are also fans of Stargate SG1 or Isaac Asimov/Robert Heinlein/Arthur C. Clark, they will be thoroughly pleased with this album.
– In terms of the music itself, expect lots grooves, sweeps, gravity blasts and some of the sickest bass you’ll ever hear, I say that with pride not arrogance. Our bassist Zenon has added such an amazing layer/atmosphere to this entire album that without the bass present it’s just not the same, he approaches the bass like a guitar and you’ll definitely hear it in the album.
-Thanks for the time and opportunity Anders! Expect “Galactic Oppression” sometime this Winter!