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Interviews : “I don’t really think Australia ever stopped” – An Interview with Colin Dickie (Earth Rot)

By on March 11, 2017

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Earth Rot – Colin Dickie

Perth’s very own Earth Rot are about to be a lot more than just a good local metal band. Upon listening to an advance copy of the new long player, Renascentia, frankly… I was surprised.

I wasn’t surprised because I didn’t think the lads from the west could deliver a stunning exercise in the brutal aural arts. I was surprised because Renascentia is the second album in the last few weeks I have had the pleasure to sample from an Australian band offering truly world class production, mixing and of course, song craft.

“I don’t really think Australia ever stopped” retorts an unknown member of the mighty Earth Rot to my suggestion that Australia is finally producing great heavy metal bands again. “I think Australian bands are now realising what it takes to get their sound out into the world. The added expense of touring from somewhere as remote as Australia is definitely a handicap but… it’s gotta be done.”

Yes… It’s gotta be done! Like enlisting one of extreme metals most revered sound men, Erik Rutan, to mix Renascentia? Rutan helms the colossal Hate Eternal and was Trey Azagthoths go-to guitarist for many years in Morbid Angel. He is also credited with production and mixing duties for far too many renowned extreme metal bands to mention. It seems recruiting Rutan was as simple as gauging the great man’s interest. “We’re big fans of his work with Cannibal Corpse and Goatwhore in particular. We reached out to him and he was keen to work with us. It was pretty straightforward actually! It goes without saying that Rutan is the man when it comes to extreme metal; we were pretty happy to trust his experience, instincts and attention to detail.”

Sticking with great Floridian guitarists, I could hear the influence of one of death metals ‘big four’ throughout Renascentia. “We’re fans of old school death metal of course but the Deicide album we’re most familiar with is The Stench of Redemption (06). Ralph Santolla shreds a mean lick.” I have long held that since the tragic demise of the patron saint of death metal, Chuck Schuldiner, in ’01 to cancer, that it is Schuldiners former Death comrade, Santolla, offering extreme metals tastiest solo and lead guitar passages… It’s that same sense of balance that the guitarists in Earth Rot deploy masterfully on Renascentia.

One of the most noticeable aspects of the album sonically is the prevalence of the rhythm section. Both drums and bass combine for a stellar one-two punch, all too rare in extreme metal. “Jared (Bridgeman) will easily talk your ear off about bass gear but the short story is that he used an ESP ‘Bottom Bump’ bass guitar with Cleartone strings, recorded through a Darkglass Vintage Deluxe Preamp, an Origin compressor and an Ampeg Portaflex. At the time, that was his live rig as well”. That’s a plug for the bass players and bass aficionados out there… how often do you get to read about the gear the bass guitarist uses!

What of the drum sound then? “It’s a Pearl Reference kit and a Dunnett titanium snare. At the time we recorded the album, Daniel (Maloney) hadn’t joined the band so this was a session job recorded by the mighty Rob Brens (ex-King Parrot). I believe the phrase he used while he was sending us demos was ‘Mario Duplantier playing black metal’ which was dead-on what we were going for.” That last comment is a reference to the influence of the stellar drum wiz from France via New York sensations, Gorjiria.

So there is much to consider when thinking of the best way to approach describing Renascentia, far too many album highlights to mention them all. One passage I will single out for unique praise is on the track “The Bones that Lay Beneath the Earth”. This deep album cut contains an avant-garde saxophone solo, something the band is proud to stand behind including on the album. “(Rutan) was pretty stoked about it. Jørgen (Munkeby) did a couple of different takes of the solo and emailed them to us and this one blew us all away.” Are Earth Rot emulating James Valentine’s superb sax solo from the sublime James Freud/Models track “Barbados”? Unlikely!

Elsewhere, homages to Katatonia, Opeth, Emperor and Wolves in the Throne Room abound. Not to mention a stellar rendition of Entombed style death’n’roll imbued throughout the album, something the band were keen to acknowledge. “Yeah! One of the things about using HM-2’s (Boss Corporation’s famed distortion pedal for electric guitar, released in ’92), trying to write anything too technical usually doesn’t end well. It really forces you to strip riffs down to the bare essence of what makes them tick. The old phrase ‘restriction breeds creativity’ rings true!” Rest assured… one thing Renascentia does not lack is mighty head banging riffs. We may well have the diminutive HM-2 to thank for that!

I was around and playing in bands when the mighty Allegiance were almost exclusively mentioned when referring to Perth and heavy metal. It feels like it has been that long since a metal band broke through from across the Nullarbor (…but then again I’m probably too wrapped up in approaching middle age to have noticed many of the wonderful bands that have come from Perth in the past few years… ) One of the bands members offers a comment on what’s been brewing in Perth of late. “The Perth scene has gone through a few changes since I started playing in bands but for my money it’s one of the strongest in the country. A few Perth bands tour a lot (Voyager, Sanzu, Make Them Suffer, Claim the Throne, Cursed Earth etc) so I’d say that’s a good sign”

Coming from Perth almost always means touring… lots of touring. So how does the band hold up? I can only imagine the sanguine colour of the eyes of the band member who offers this notable summary of the bands attitude to touring: “I just spent 30 hours in transit and am currently sitting in Amsterdam, one of my favourite cities, waiting for tour to start on Tuesday. Safe to say that we’ve all collectively spent a lot of time trying to find the right people to tour with. I’m going to spend 3 weeks drinking crap beer in the back of countless bars and I’m going to love it.”

Love it… sums up any fan of extreme metals reaction once they hear Renascentia.

The nascent Earth Rot are a band on the rise. If they play in a venue nearby, go see them! Head to the band’s office Facebook page to find out more. www.facebook.com/EarthRotband

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Renascentia is out now through Spinefarm

About

Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of QLD. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @i_c_e_man