It’s been a minute since we last heard from Orlando’s Druid Lord. A little over four years’ worth of minutes, to be exact – not since the “Baron Blood” 7″ dropped in October of 2013. You know what they say, though, about how good things come to those who wait, right? Grotesque Offerings is definitely one of those good things: fifty-five minutes of the kind of crushing old-school, horror-infused death/doom that your body has been craving. And yeah, it was totally worth the wait.
However, you don’t have to just take my word for it. Grotesque Offerings will be out on January 19 via Hell’s Headbangers, but you can listen to the entire album now exclusively at Indy Metal Vault. And as an added bonus, I had the opportunity to chat with Druid Lord guitarist Pete Slate about the album and what the band’s been up to for the last few years.
Indy Metal Vault: So it’s been a while since Druid Lord has done a proper full-length – Hymns for the Wicked came out back in 2010 – and going on five years since your last release, the “Baron Blood” seven-inch. What’s new in the DL camp? What’s everyone been up to the last few years?
Pete Slate: Yeah for sure, it’s been awhile since the “Baron Blood” EP. We basically had a few issues with the lineup at that time. Once “Baron Blood” was released, we played a series of shows. One of those being with HOD in Miami. There were a few issues going on, and as a result of that gig our drummer left a few months after. No hard feelings, but just some problems not getting resolved. At that point we basically had a few songs for Grotesque Offerings written. Then Elden Santos came on board. We then finished writing the album. Ben [Ross], our guitar player, left the band for about a year and then returned. You know a band is like being with family or a business… you have to deal with the ups and downs. Now we are solid again and ready to kick ass. At this moment, we are getting ready for the international release of the new album (on Hell’s Headbangers) on all formats. We have a CD release gathering here in our hometown of Orlando to celebrate on Jan 26th. I’m also working on new material. 2018 will be a damn good year.
IMV: Anyone familiar with some of the bands Druid Lord’s members have been in previously, most notably Acheron and Equinox, will likely have the same reaction I did when listening to Grotesque Offerings the first time: “holy shit – this is slow!” You really landed hard on the doom end of the death/doom spectrum on this record, combining like an old-school Autopsy vibe with what sounds like a serious dose of Candlemass and Black Sabbath, which works really well with the horror-influenced lyrics. What made you want to go back to those early death and doom metal bands for inspiration?
PS: We all come from playing fast hard Death/Black Metal…That’s in our blood from the early days. It was just time for a change. Equinox had a good run, but we never got the attention we deserved. Tony and I grew up listening to bands like Winter, Sabbath, Celtic Frost, Hellhammer, Necrovore, Possessed….We wanted to go back to the roots and really play with emotion and feeling again. Where every note and lyric written took on twists and turns. The music and lyrics must work together as one. Even the artwork must go with the music. That’s very important to us. This album did come out slower that we anticipated, as we still do have fast parts, but we felt it was time to just do what we felt right and not concern ourselves with opinions of others. We’ve been fortunate as the reviews have been great.
IMV: “Black Candle Séance” originally appeared (in slightly different form) on your 2011 split with Wooden Stake. Do any of the other tracks on Grotesque Offerings date back that far as well, or was there something about that song in particular that made you want to revisit it for this album?
PS: Druid Lord did a bunch of 7″ EPs and splits from 2011-2013, and some of those are really hard to come by. “Black Candle Seance” has been in our live set since we wrote the song. Since so many of our fans knew that track and we now play a heavier version, we felt it was a good idea to re-record it. Elden did a killer job on that track as well. It’s deserved heavier production. That was the only song. The rest were all new. We are even thinking of re-recording two more old tracks we did for our next album. Check out the split CD we did with Kaiju. Very cool songs but not many have heard that album.
IMV: What was the recording process for the album like? The production is surprisingly clean without sounding too modern or “slick” – the instruments and vocals all come through very clearly in the mix. Who did you work with on the record? Was the end result what you had in mind going in, or did that sound kind of evolve as you were working in the studio?
PS: We recorded the guitars, vocals, and drums at Tony Blakk’s own Blakk Magik Studios here in Orlando. Being he has a home studio it makes it easy to get all the tracks done on our own time. My friend Lasse from Hooded Menace mentioned we should try Mikko Saastamoinen to mix and master the album. Mikko had done a lot of their early work. So we sent all the tracks to Finland where he resides and he did his thing. I wanted to keep my guitars dirty and nasty. No nice polished guitar sound. However the drums were to be heavy and the vocals to the point where you can hear them. Tony has a very unique style. He can get gutteral as hell but then he does a lot of voice inflection like some of the early death metal bands. Tony did an amazing job. We are so critical of our own sound at times it’s damn annoying, but over all we are very pleased.
IMV: Daniel Corcuera’s cover art for the record is amazing. How closely did you work with him on the concept for the art?
PS: Daniel is the man. He’s an amazing artist. I’ve been in contact with him for many years as he knows of my prior band Equinox. Been a big fan of his work for as long as I can remember. When Druid Lord formed, I asked him many times to do the cover for something. He was so busy but then finally his schedule worked with ours. I had the album title first. We both threw around ideas but nothing concrete at first. I then had the idea of a skeletal knight (figure) give an offering to the dead king. The hooded figures are more mystical, occult like beings who want to see life flow back in their dead king by creating this dark ceremony. Daniel’s first drawing was amazing and we went with it. He really brought the idea to life completely. He also did the artwork for the inside and back cover. We’ve been lucky to work with some great artist’s over the years including Putrid, Eric Rot, Joshy..etc
IMV: Instead of asking the usual sort of influences question, let me ask this instead: if listening to Grotesque Offerings put someone in the mood to watch a horror film (which is very possible), which film(s) would you suggest watching as the ideal complement to the album and why?
PS: The song “Last Drop of Blood” easily ties in with the 70’s movie Inquisition, maybe even some Mark of the Devil influence. Cleansing by means of torture back in the middle ages.
“Murderous Mr Hyde” – any Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde movie. The thought of becoming someone else who lusts for murder and chaos is just intriguing.
“Creature Feature” – Just bringing back a feeling of watching those 60’s and 70’s b-movies back in the day. Sitting in the dark getting excited for any horror movie that played. This song puts you in the mind of someone obsessed with watching horror movies to the point he lives what he sees. He becomes the evil one as he puts on his mask..
“House of Dripping Gore” was not so much influenced by a movie, but the life of HH Holmes.
IMV: What’s next for Druid Lord after the album comes out? Any tour plans?
PS: Make more contacts (promoters) so we can get out there and tour the US. We also must play Europe. One of my goals for the last 10 years. Write the next album without waiting so long. I want the fans and friends to hear more Druid Lord, as we have a lot more to offer.
IMV: Thanks again for taking the time to answer a few questions. I’ll leave the last word to you – anything else you’d like to add?
PS: Thanks to you and The Vault for supporting the scene and the new album. We appreciate everyone who buys our album, merch, and just is into the band. Check out our site www.druidlord.com for merch. Doom on!!!