If you crave for the most obscure sides of the Death Metal genre, then you definitely need to check out FAITHXTRACTOR and their sonic arsenal. I've sent my questions to the mastermind and multi-instrumentalist behind dozens of underground hordes, namely Ash Thomas. Read his answers and perceive the total death illumination!!!
Hello Ash! It was quite a while ago we talked to each other. So let's start our conversation with some background information about FAITHXTRACTOR. You've formed the band in 2005 and a year later you've recorded all the instruments and vocals for your debut 2-song demo. A bit later Marquis, your brother, joins in with whom you've recorded material for a split and 2 full-length albums. And after the release of "The Great Shadow Infiltrator" (2013) two more members entering the band, first Zdenka on bass and a year later Cody on guitar. Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that FAITHXTRACTOR initially was supposed to be a studio project, am I right? How and when the idea of a fully-functioning band came to your mind? I know that sometimes it just happens naturally, nevertheless tell us more about the beginnings and step by step progression of FAITHXTRACTOR.
- Yes, that is correct. Originally, FAITHXTRACTOR was strictly a studio project between my brother Marquis & me. It was a great way for both of us to continue to create music while our main functioning bands were preoccupied with preparing for shows or waiting for other members of those bands to be ready to move forward with the next release, etc. When ESTUARY's drummer, Jesse Wilson, left said band (ESTUARY), Zdenka & I found it very difficult to replace him properly. We both were itching to play live & she (Zdenka) was fond of the FAITHXTRACTOR material. She was into the idea of playing bass with a live incarnation of FAITHXTRACTOR, & pivotal in helping bring a line up together.
There was a superb 7" EP called "Total Death Illumination" released by Austenitized Records in 2015 and spread by the band online through your bandcamp profile. Those 2 tracks displayed quite an obscure mixture of the sickest Death Metal ever, pure darkness and hell so to say. Especially it goes to the "Existential Poison" cut. I felt a strong AUTOPSY/GRAVE/DISMEMBER influence there. How do you feel about this comparison?
- Thanks for the kind words! Well, I absolutely love those bands & consider them among the greats, so I'm pleased with the comparison. I will say, though, that we never strive to emulate any band in particular. Creating sick Death Metal that we ourselves would want to listen to is the prime directive.
Your 3rd full-length album is near completion by the time. Please share with us all the necessary details about it, like album title, amount of songs, recording line-up, studio, etc. What should we expect musically there?
- Well, the new record is entitled "Proverbial Lambs to the Ultimate Slaughter". It'll have 12 tracks total, & the recording line-up is I Ash Thomas on drums & vocals, Zdenka Prado on bass & backing vocals, & Cody Knarr on lead guitar. I know everyone says this, but I honestly feel this is the best material I've ever created from composition to playing ability. I've heard these songs 1000 times during the writing/recording process & I'm still excited by them. The sound is TOTAL DEATH. We recorded it all ourselves in our Frequenscream studios, but will send it off for mixing & mastering.
What themes are you going to unfold in the lyrics this time? Where do you get your inspiration from? List us some of the all-time favorite books and movies of yours.
- There are various themes on the album, but all are rooted in our life philosophy. The wretched & haggard state of humanity & its slavery to some invisible force is always at the forefront. Some songs deal with nightmare interpretations, the supernatural, & the fusing of parallel worlds. Favorite movies include Alien, Aliens, Robocop, Total Recall, Predator & a lot of sci-fi/horror. Books include The Lucifer Principle, The 12th Planet, Children of the Matrix.
It will be released by the Ohio-based Hells Headbangers Records. What kind of deal you inked with them? Does Deathgasm Records wasn't interested in further cooperation?
- It is a simple album by album deal. More or less a licensing deal as they will handle manufacturing production while we are handling the recording, etc. Evan at Deathgasm is a great friend & there is no problem between us. The deal with HH is just a better path for the band at this point in time. They are one of my favorite labels, & half the music I buy these days comes from them. Be their roster or distro.
You are involved in a plenty of underground acts lately. Talk us a bit about each of them. Especially about your alliance with Kyle Severn of INCANTATION in the band called SHED THE SKIN, about the Horror Punk band with your brother named VLADIMIRS and about SURGIKILL, where Zdenka also appears. How can you focus on so many bands all at once? Reveal us your secret, please.
- The main thing to remember is I'm only a main writer with FAITHXTRACTOR & of course ESTUARY. Two bands that are very different. For SHED THE SKIN, Matt Sorg writes all the music, while he & Kyle Severn arrange the material. I was originally asked to do vocals for the 7" using the lyrics written by INCANTATION bassist Chuck Sherwood. It worked out so well that my role is to place his lyrics creatively to the songs, & perform the best vocals I can. That's what I do. For the VLADIMIRS, I'm helping channel my brother Marquis' vision. He's the main writer for this band, & I'm content with playing the best drums I can for his tunes. The same goes for CRUCIFIED MORTALS. Craig "Reaper" Horval writes the music, & my job is to provide the best drums possible. For SURGIKILL I have a large role in the arrangement of the songs, however, the basis of riffs & core ideas are that of Billy & Vanessa Nocera as well as Stevo! This is how I'm able to do multiple bands. I'm purposely not spreading myself too thin creatively, & although all the bands are extreme, they all have their own separate identities.
Things can still be hectic at times, because a lot of shit seems to happen at the same time, but it has been manageable up to this point.
Since 2015 you also reactivated ESTUARY, which news is as awesome as the band itself. I see you have a complete line-up by now and Cody is also there. The third album was already in plans back in 2008 and as I remember the whole material was also ready by then, but it just didn't happen and in 2009 the band has ceased to exist. What things motivated you to reform ESTUARY after so many years of silence? Please inform us as many details as possible regarding the upcoming new album and also when should we expect it to be released.
- Losing our drummer Jesse was a huge part of this. I've played with him since 1992, so we developed our styles together. Sure there are a ton of great drummers, but he had a vibe that has proven difficult to replace.
The timing just happened to be right for the reunion show we did in 2016. Jesse was suddenly back on the map when we were asked to play the BLOOD OF THE WOLF FEST in Lexington, KY & he agreed to do the gig. Things were going great, we played a killer show, but after the gig he once again distanced himself & we haven't done anything since. I honestly don't know what the future holds for ESTUARY, but I do NOT feel things are not finished. Time will ultimately tell...
Earlier we had a talk about the underground scene of Cincinnati and then you wrote me it is lame as fuck. Well, how's the actual situation there and in Ohio in general, is it changed to a better?
- Well, it's still fairly small & a lot of times lame, but admittedly better than it was 10 years ago. Those were the terrible days... haha. We did have a surge of younger people forming bands that were on decent paths. But I'm not going to lie. Even that has diminished somewhat in the last 2 years. People "grow up" & "grow out" of it, so to speak & we're seeing less activity than say 3 years ago. Part of the cycle I suppose... Don't break the circle. Diehards last...
You are all committed, die-hard metal fans and true supporters of the underground spirit for many years now. But what do you think about the actual generation of metal fans? Does they committed to metal at all or it's just a 2-3 year fashion for them? Please name us what releases you bought recently and what bands caught your attention.
- I guess I touched on this a bit in my previous answer... Still, there are always some dedicated die hard Metal freaks among the younger crowd. I've met some people half my age that really appreciate the music & are really into collecting physical copies of records, etc. Hell, our guitarist Cody is a great example of a younger individual who is totally dedicated & into the music.
Being an older dude, it's amusing to see cycles repeat, etc. And I have to say; hearing how a lot of these kids speak in "know it all absolutes" is fucking hilarious. SHUT UP & HEAD BANG! If you're here in a year or two from now I'll be impressed, hahaha...
New releases I enjoy are by bands like RUINOUS, KRYPTS, GOREPHILIA, BLOOD INCANTATION, SAVAGE MASTER, UNDERGANG, NECROT, etc. There's still a lot of killer shit being created.
I hope you enjoyed our virtual transmission. Please extract your final illuminations to all the dedicated underground metal fans of the globe.
- Thank you Kornel for the interview, & for the support throughout the years! Be on the lookout for our new full length later this year. If you're into dark & punishing Death Metal you will not be disappointed! Anyone interested in merch can search FAITHXTRACTOR online & find our web presence. METAL 'TIL DEATH!