California-based blackened death metal duo Our Place of Worship is Silence probably don’t like you.
Actually, scratch that – let me start over.
California-based blackened death metal duo Our Place of Worship is Silence more than likely cannot fucking stand you. Or me. Or any of us, really. In fact, if I were a gambling man, I’d place a fairly large sum on it. But you know what? If that’s what it takes for them to produce an album like With Inexorable Suffering, then fuck it – I’m completely cool with them hating you, me, and pretty much anyone else they want to, past or present, living or dead, real or fictional.
To call With Inexorable Suffering an angry album would be like saying this most recent winter has been a bit strange. There’s still snow in the forecast even though it’s mid-April, and With Inexorable Suffering is the aural equivalent of Joe Pesci’s death scene in Casino – it’s going to drive you out into the middle of a cornfield, beat you savagely with baseball bats, and then throw you in a shallow grave before you’ve actually taken your final breath.
I had the chance to ask guitarist/vocalist Eric and drummer/vocalist Tim a few questions about With Inexorable Suffering, and considering the misanthropic tendencies of their music, it might not come as much of a surprise that the duo aren’t exactly the talkative types. For the most part, their responses to my questions were as bludgeoningly straightforward as their riffs. Even so, I think there are still insights to be gleaned from what they were willing to say.
With Inexorable Suffering is now available from Translation Loss Recordings. Go snag a copy on CD, LP or cassette, and then check out what Tim & Eric had to say about the album, the somewhat turbulent history of the band, and a few other things besides.
Indy Metal Vault: I’ve been spending quite a bit of time listening to With Inexorable Suffering the last couple of weeks, and it is easily the angriest album I’ve heard in a good long while. It also feels like a much more focused album than your debut, The Embodiment of Hate. I know you’re down to a two-piece now after recording the last album as a quartet – do you think the album might seem more focused as the result of working as a two-piece, or is it more of a natural progression of the two of you as musicians?
Eric: It’s really a natural progression between Tim and I and has been from the start. It’s why we knew this project was worth our time and dedication. The Embodiment of Hate displayed an early step to what we feel is now more “our sound,” but it’s still inevitably evolving as we both progress in pushing each other’s limits. We definitely spent a lot more time crafting With Inexorable Suffering and catered to our more ambitious influences for the aggressive rhythm dynamics blended with black metal.
IMV: As I’m writing these questions, the release date for With Inexorable Sufferingis about a month off. Still, I’ve seen a few reviews for it start trickling in, including a lengthy track-by-track breakdown from Cvlt Nation that focuses primarily on your songwriting structures. Instead of asking about critical responses, though, let me ask this instead: what response are you trying to provoke from listeners? I find the album incredibly cathartic – by the time “Lawlessness Will Abound” fades, I’m pretty well wrung out. However, given some of the things you’ve said about the album, I’m not sure that was your intent.
Eric: It’s a challenging listen, as it should be. Playing this style of music and/or being part of the audience demands a certain kind of attention not all have nor care to, and we acknowledge that. This album will be heard and received by those who truly have an ear for aural annihilation, not tourists.
IMV: What made you decide to record With Inexorable Suffering as a two-piece instead of finding a replacement bassist and vocalist? Assuming your Metal Archives page is correct (which I know can be something of a crapshoot), you’ve replaced members before. Do you plan on continuing on as a duo, or fleshing out the lineup again when you (presumably) start playing live in support of the album?
Eric: Our Place of Worship is Silence is and always will be Tim and myself. We write and arrange all songs ourselves and typically handle everything in the studio sans material tracked by session members. A full time live line up is still yet to be cemented, but that’ll naturally come with time and patience. There’s a really specific kind of chemistry that needs to exist for a unit like this to work efficiently, which unfortunately never comes easy.
IMV: Did you write all of With Inexorable Suffering as a two-piece? If so, did that change the way you approached the songwriting process at all compared to The Embodiment of Hate? One thing I do notice is that there seem to be a lot fewer blasting/thrashy sections on With Inexorable Suffering? Was that a result of knowing you’d have to be handling vocals on the album as well?
Eric: We do, which is why our sound is well chiseled. Less distractions means more focus, attention to details and no bullshit. We always write as naturally and in the moment as possible, but feel the amount of momentum and energy on this album outdid what we managed on The Embodiment of Hateten fold. The live setting will typically be handled by a front man, but Tim and I always do backing vocals as well, regardless of how demanding each song is.
IMV: You’ve recorded both of your albums with Erol Ulug, who, if I’m not mistaken, you both played with in Teeth. However, the production on the two records sounds so different that I never would have guessed the same guy did both. To my ears, The Embodiment of Hatehas a muddiness about it, especially in the guitar tones, that deadens its impact a bit. With Inexorable Sufferingsounds dry and abrasive, which is perfect for your style of music – particularly the snare, which sounds like a fucking gunshot. Did you do anything differently during the recording process this time around? Were you in the same studio for both albums?
Eric: Yes, both albums were recorded at the same place (Bright Light Studios, Santa Ana, CA) but Erol purchased more/upgraded a lot of his mics since the first record, which is a big reason why we achieved a lot of rich volume and more tonal range on this album.
IMV: Following up on that, I always like to ask at least one gear-related question. What did you setups look like this time around, and how different were they than on The Embodiment of Hate? I’m particularly curious about how you got that killer guitar tone.
Eric: The amp set up was a blend of both my Ampeg VT120 and Erol’s JCM 2000, but the true weight and tone that we managed to get was poured out of timeless 1960 Marshall cabinets, which never fails. I used an Ibanez Iceman vs. an LTD ESP MH250 on this album. Both have an EMG 85 on the bridge but the Iceman body has a lot more weight and density that resonates a lot harder than the guitar I used on The Embodiment of Hate.
IMV: You’ve made some cryptic statements about With Inexorable Suffering in both the PR materials (“Man is within the fall and we hold this truth to be self evident; clenched within this record is our rebuttal.”) and to Decibel magazine in their premiere of “The Blind Chimera and its Death” (“After the fall of the powers that be, there will be a successor shielded by a hideous farce […] Once the despot collides with the perilous blackness of opposition, it will become obsessed with its own demise.”) Is there any conceptual or philosophical thread running through the album’s lyrics?
Tim: Each song has its own subject and purpose, but the common theme throughout the album is misanthropy. I will not guide any mind through the nuances of each song; if one is blind, I will deceive thee.
IMV: Jef Whitehead/Wrest did the cover art for With Inexorable Suffering. How did that come about? How closely did you work with him on the concept? Did you give him any ideas, or did you just leave him to his own devices?
Eric: We’ve known Jef for some time and this isn’t the first he’s delivered content for us, it was just a matter of time and place for his touch to be added to this project outside of the logo he did for us at the very birth of OPOWIS.
Tim: Working with Jef was smooth. I only had a couple of ideas I wanted to play around with, and the labyrinth concept was the one we settled on.
IMV: I’m not a fan in general of those “what are your influences?” questions, mostly because everyone seems to ask them and bands never seem all that excited to answer them. So let me approach it from a different angle: if you each had to pick one source of inspiration—be it musical, a film, a book, whatever—that had the biggest impact on your playing on With Inexorable Suffering, what would it be and why?
Eric: Contemporaries… there’s a lot of hype surrounding certain acts whose playing is mediocre at best, and I feel our music sets the standard and bar to an unmatched level. Metal tourists scoring a full ride with some hyped label because they’re catering to whatever flavor of the week are fuel for the fire and an easy way to weed out exactly what we refuse to do or ever subscribe to.
IMV: What’s next for Our Place of Worship is Silence after With Inexorable Suffering drops? Are there any touring plans in the works?
Eric: Touring will happen in time when it’s right and makes sense for us mentally and financially. We’re not driven to be on the road six months out of the year, nor will we ever, but definitely plan on handling a few domestic excursions as well as international when we see fit.
IMV: Thanks again for taking the time to answer a few questions. I always like to leave the last word to the artists – anything else you want to add?
Serve no entity and bow to none.