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Jamie Graham & Ross McLellan (Viscera)

Interview with Jamie Graham & Ross McLellan from Viscera
by Craig Rider at 22 March 2020, 8:46 AM

What an evening this shall be: VISCERA support LORNA SHORE; INGESTED, BEYOND CREATION & the headlining behemoth: DECAPITATED. Having been offered the chance to interview former members from giant acts such as: HEART OF A COWARD; ABHORRENT DECIMATION, DEFILED; NERVECELL, and SURFACES - this gig (to put it simply) is not to be missed. Already it is a stellar lineup, and with the band in question I get to talk with these titans of Modern Tech Death/Deathcore amalgamations. Already converging an inspired seminal of 90s/00s – notably PANTERA; MESHUGGAH, DECAPITATED; AT THE GATES, THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER & KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. Live at London's Ulu Live, Student Central at Melet Street - Rising Merch present Faces Of Death who claim this tour to be one of the heaviest of 2020. A bold statement for sure, yet likely accurate! Metal Temple writer Craig Rider caught up with the guys from VISCERA. Check it out!

So, that first gig that you just put on was amazing. How was it, your first time playing for England?

Ross: Yeah, it was. I didn't think of that, that was our first British show wasn't it?

Jamie: I guess the show itself went pretty well, I think there were a few sound issues out front but yeahit was definitelywicked to play for the first time in the UK…It literally occurred to me til now so I guess it's quite a big deal.

So the new, debut album: "Obsidian" (I hope I pronounced that right *laughs*), who designed it?

Jamie: it was a guy called Shindy Reehal; he's worked with INGESTED and HARBINGER and a few other British bands where the concept was semi-layed out to him and then he just made an awesome image out of it, it's pretty sick.

So this supergroup is pretty much just that as well so from all different members of bands such as ABHORRENT DECIMATION; HEART OF A COWARD et cetera…

Jamie: we're actually just not affecting the original lineup is it?

Ross: No, well kind of it is in terms of writing there is but there are a couple of other people who wanted to get involved in the project but couldn't because of other bands and other stuff that they were doing but it worked out perfectly in the end anyway because we ended up getting Archer on board who's not on this tour because he's just had a little boy but he does a lot of songwriting as well so that's quite an important position.

So you've got like a mixture of dynamics on the album like the pianist implementations and stuff like that, what was the choices in elementing a not so extreme formula of that?

Jamie: just to not make a typical Deathcore record and trying to just get as many areas as we could without it sounding disjointed. I still don't think we've quite nailed our sound perfectly yet, I think the next record will be the one where we come into it a bit better. We wrote that record in the space of 8 months, and we recorded it in the space of about 4. So it will probably be about twice as long to work on the next one, and obviously we won't be putting together members now as we have got them so the process should be smoother on the next record.

So were there any difficulties with anyone, coming together?

Jamie: we do find it hard to come together, so I tend to come first then Ross will come and then Adam *everyone laughs* there wouldn't have been any tension really because we only met up not many times before we came out because we all live in different areas so in regards to sort of hammering things together…me and Adam were able to meet up because we don't live far from each other, and we were able to shoot ideas back and forwards, and then Archer kind of best works in isolation he's kind of like the una-bomber, where the guy lives in his tiny shed…shuts himself away and becomes a sort of like a lineage and that's Archer, he's sort a bit of a recluse. And then we just met up and done the things that needed to be done together; Jamie recorded the vocals with Justin Hill which was sick, and then we did all the pre-production with Archer at the studio and then we had the album mixed and mastered by Mike from ETERNAL SACRIFICE… so yeah, who are a fucking amazing band too who you should check out, I can recommend that one.

On the topic of coming together, do you have a producer who wants to tell you to do this or that?

Jamie: no we wrote everything together as a band first and pretty much delivered it as we wanted it to be delivered and gave it to Mike who mixed and mastered it and he made it sound 10 times more big dick than it did. But the arrangements were already set but he added a couple of flourishes with strings and adding keyboards and stuff like that, because he does that for ETERNAL SACRIFICE as well and their sort of interludes are amazing. But as far as a vision for the album, which I think was what you was getting at, right? Basically we got two main writers; which is Adam and Archer, and Lenny's sort of the chef de partie basically who sort of seasons and flavours everything nicely… Alex is basically the type of drummer where you can basically put anything in front of him and he'll be able to play it. He tends to learn the songs as we write them, and then he'll add his own tricks to it before we finally record and then my vocals will be the last thing to be finished but usually one of the first things to base the song around so once we got like a hook or a chorus or whatever… I'll say to the lads I've got a rhythm for that riff or this riff, let's try and make that the chorus or this the chorus… the n we'll usually build the song around that chorus unless it's Adam's spesh where he just sometimes flies out like basically completely finish the song off the bat and we are all like, woah…there's one or two of them as well. There's a sort of collection, which is good. There's a couple on the album that came to give a really good ding but that took a little while, a good punch-back and there's some that didn't even make it to anyone else's ears which we'll use for the next one.

So you got demo versions already in the vault?

Jamie: yeah, yeah - there was plenty to choose from when we did the first specs… we ended up bringing off the work for 2 or 3 songs, not because they weren't as good but they weren't as finished as the others and we wanted to just get the record out there…we had enough music for a good album so we thought 9 songs will be enough for the first one.

Usually it's about 10 songs for a full-length album but 9 is a decent amount, same with the time frame 30-45 minutes?

Jamie: yeah, it's 3…6 minutes, the album?

It's a bit like SLAYER's "Reign In Blood", I'm pretty sure that's about the same time length.

Jamie: that's about 27 minutes… yeah, that was the notorious thing about "Reign In Blood" one of the only albums in metal that did it as an encore.

So were there any learning curves that everyone needed to perfect, in their own style?

Jamie: definitely for me, I had to basically learn on how to scream again from scratch as I hadn't done it for 4 years. But it was like any muscle you sort of exercise it a bit, and it starts to come back. By the time we got to the studio it was fine, then we had 6 months off again. To be honest I think yesterday was the first show where it really started to click, and I'm starting to hit all the high notes and do all the bits that I wanted to hit – it took 3 or 4 shows to warm in… dunno about you? I mean how was it for you? Did you have to build up, were you alright in the beginning? *in response to Ross*

Ross: it was a bit different because of the stuff I done before with ABHORRENT DECIMATION was a little more straight-up and Adam's a bit more of a modern guitarist than what I am. I started off in a thrash metal band and then I went to death metal, and the stuff that went absolutely old-school and a bit more tremelo-picking rather than picking out all the like syncopation. Where as Adam's always been about the modern stuff, so we've been jamming with Adam for the last couple of years so we've only been with Adam for like 3 years so I've just been picking up all that sort of stuff and he shows me stuff and then equally I show him stuff - so we are starting to meet the requirements there.

I recognize the influences quite well as well you got KILLSWITCH ENGAGE?

Jamie: yeah, definitely vocally. Not so much instrumentally but certainly vocally.

PANTERA?

Jamie: PANTERA, yeah - all the groove metal stuff as well…AFTER THE BURIAL, HUMANITY'S DYING BREATH…who else? Alex our drummer is really into BORN OF OSIRUS. He's really into sort of jazz and funk and all that as well so he groves into nuts drumming stuff into his playing which is quite sort of, not your typical death metal drumming stuff - but you can do all of the fast feet stuff as well.

Going back to your previous dynamic, you don't want it to be the stereotypical all the time?

Jamie: yeah, our influences aren't sort of the typicals ones that you'd see in the pocket of bands that we've been thrown into; like we probably have more in common with FIT FOR AN AUTOPSY, WHITECHAPEL, INFANT ANNIHILATOR and BLACK TONGUE. I dunno, like SHADOW OF ATEM of which I'm not sure…that's more like the super-heavy side of Deathcore. We're definitely strappling the more semi-mainstream side…yeah, that's definitely the more intentional thing was to try and be heavy enough to be able to tour with bands like that but also melodic enough to be able to step out of the powersphere. But it is a fine-line like if you go too far one way or another you do kind of alienate, so that's why on the next album I think will be where we find where we really hone the sound to a perfectionist level and we can start experimenting. We won't go full TESSERACT, though. *laughs*

Jamie: but we need to wrap up in a second though dude because I need to look after my sister, she's at her first metal show *gasps*

So the origins of the "Lamb To The Slaughter" single, so how did that transcend into the whole shape of the album?

Jamie: well it was the first ever song we had and it kind of set the tone for the rest of the album, lyrically it's a very deep one to go into. Like the whole album is quite sort of personal but it's sort of about love and connections can sort of be completely transformed into a toxic environment or whatever and how that can effect every side of your personality, friendships - everything. Yeah, there's a lot of different nods to that across the different songs but "Lamb To The Slaughter" specifically is about the power struggle between 2 people, when a power struggle is no longer like a compromise…and becomes about like an almost toxic one-upmanship, and find yourself saying things and hearing things that you wouldn't normally expect to hear from that person. So the "Lamb To the Slaughter metaphor is like when a sheep, when a lamb is being taken to be killed it has no idea that it's about to be killed it jusy goes in there willingly. So it's like meant to symbolize the toxicity of a bad relationship like when you get into that point where you are aware of how bad it is, so you take a step out.

With all the drama that people have to deal with on a everyday basis then, pretty much. So shall we wrap this up then?

Jamie: if you have got what you need, that was cool though, I hope you got some stuff out of it. It was good to meet you! Thank you very much.

hank you very much! It was a pleasure my dudes! That was an awesome first in-person interview, and I hope you had fun with it. Good luck with the rest of the tour my friends, and all the best for the future! Keep rolling.



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