DANK SLAMS: A Sermon Of Slam With N'Yawk Brutal Death Metallers Dehumanized
N'Yawk death metal (say it in your best borough-specific accent for full effect – going full-nasal for Queens). Most of you reading this were likely doing the old Fallopian tube breast stroke – attempting to place first in the Ovarian Olympics that happens in your mom's reproductive (and sewage) system several times a day – when NYDM was hitting its prime. The year was '95, and preeminent Long Island, NY death metallers, Suffocation, had just released their third full-length effort, Pierced From Within. By the mid-90s, there were several NYDM bands who had contributed now-classic albums to the ever-expanding sub-genre of extreme metal, this included the likes of Mortician, Immolation, Pyrexia (early), Cannibal Corpse (early), and Internal Bleeding.
Now, this is where shit gets a little tricky. Of course, there is no argument from us that bands such as Suffocation and Mortician aren't slam (they aren't – plain and simple). That said, there are a handful of pivotal bands that bridged that narrow gap between New York brutal death metal and slam as we know it today. Membership to this exclusive club includes the aforementioned club overseers, and two initiate bands who had something to prove, being Skinless (South Glen Falls, NY), and the topic of today's dankness – Dehumanized (from Floral Park, NY).
Dehumanized, in an effort to vary shit up, took the sickness to new heights with their 1998 debut full-length, Prophecies Foretold, which was packed to the brim with festering, brutal, slammin slams. There was an edge to this that spoke directly to the underground, more so than anything else coming out at around the same time, and it was presented in an immediately palatable package. Yes, it was brutal. Yes, it was sick. Yes, it was disgusting. But, above all else, it was daring, adventurous and – to be honest – refreshing.
If the title of the album is any indication, Prophecies Foretold was an album that had a BIG hand in laying down the foundation of what was yet to come – and why you are all here reading these words… SLAM. Unfortunately, it would be another fourteen years before the band followed-up with their sophomore effort, Controlled Elite (with one solid-as-hell demo in the interim).
Here we are, four years later, faced with a brand new album, Beyond The Mind, that reinforces the why and how of Dehumanized. With that in mind, we've invited frontman, Mike Centrone, into the realm of our dank to fill us in on all things Dehumanized – which includes some tidbits about the new album, as well as a peek into Mike's personal playlist (bands that have influenced him, and what he has been spinning recently). While we are on the topic of the new album (which is fucking phenomenal), check out the new track "Black Market 2099" below, and then head over to the Dehumanized Facebook page and give 'em a well-deserved like!
Take it away, Mike…
MIKE: Being the lead vocalist for Dehumanized holds double the rewards for me personally. They are arguably the grooviest death metal band in history and that is what drew my attention back in the late '90s. Honestly, I don't think of us as a 'slam' band per se. I view us as a brutal death metal band with some flayva. I obviously am not the original vocalist of Dehumanized. Actually I was, and still am, a rabid fan of their material – without question. This is why it's double the pleasure being part of the new albums and then listening to them from a fan's point of view.
Now, Rich and George may have wrote the music for our newest release, Beyond The Mind, and Tony Hendrix (Anthony Cossu) laid down the wig-pullin' bass lines, but the lyrics, overall theme and vibe have Yours truly's mentally deranged stamp all over it. Some tracks' lyrics like "Black Market 2099", and "The First Immortal" had become self-fulfilling prophecy. To be transparent, I went through a severe depression/anxiety disorder back in 2014 that stole eight months of my life and almost removed me from the playing field altogether. The lyrics of "One North", and "Last Words" paint the picture pretty poignantly of my battle with suicide and my stay in the psychiatric ward. "Worthless Prosperity", "P.C.C.R.", and "Abyss Ambassador" represent the recovery cycle and reflections.
I've advertised Beyond The Mind as being not your 'feel good' album by any stretch. However, the real experiences and personalities among the band's members have made for one powerful record. There's definitely character to the material and, even though the content is what it is, I don't want the listener to shy away from gaining their own perspective and inspiration from it. Now that I've bummed everyone out (hopefully you've continued reading), let me break down some albums that have influenced me.
METALLICA – …AND JUSTICE FOR ALL (1988)
MIKE: I have to start with my favorite album of any music genre of all time: Metallica's …and Justice For All. I don't give a fuck if the bass is non-existent in the mix; the distortion on the guitars define the term "heavy metal" for me. That guitar sound definitely did not spawn from this planet, nor did it stick around to appear on any other album from any other band. It was just too heavy. Each song was a classic; end of story. Masterpiece.
CANNIBAL CORPSE – THE BLEEDING (1994)
MIKE: Next up is Cannibal Corpse's The Bleeding. The visuals that I had while listening to this album for the first time were so vivid, dark, and inspiring. This was one of the first death metal albums that I really latched on to the imagery. Chris Barnes' high screams, which I've described as perverted cat yells, sounded like they were coming from a cadaver rapist. The riffs themselves took on a personality of their own. For example; my friends and I used to storyboard the bridge in "Pulverized" where the harmonics and licks sounded like two alien-like beings arguing with each other and when the intro riff resurfaced, that was the sound of one of them saying 'I give up'.
CRYPTOPSY – WHISPER SUPREMACY (2003)
MIKE: Cryptopsy [featured previously on Dank Slams here] has been my favorite extreme metal band for a long time now and Whisper Supremacy still is my #1 from them. I can hear the elitists (and my drummer George) lambasting me for liking Mike Disalvo more than Lord Worm. The way I see it, Cryptopsy with Lord Worm was a phenomenal death metal/grind band. When Disalvo came into the picture, and Whisper Supremacy dropped, they became something else. The dynamics of "Cold Hate, Warm Blood", mixing elegant melodies with ferocious hyper-speed drumming and Disalvo's punchy, majestic vocals, is stuff of legend.
MORBID ANGEL – DOMINATION (1994)
MIKE: I bought Morbid Angel's Domination in a Sam Goody music store when it came out – solely based on the cover art. I'd never heard of them before this event. Seeing that cover made me say to myself, 'I have to hear what this band sounds like!' and I'm grateful I acted on that urge. You hear people joke about it, but this was the first album that scared me while listening to it. The demonic imagery and those evil riffs made my dick hard. The intro to "Caesar's Palace" is the soundtrack to Satan rising from the depths all slow like. This is why I've loved Morbid Angel because they give me something a lot of bands and artists don't: they paint me a fuckin' picture!
WHAT'S BEEN DESTROYING MIKE'S EAR MEAT AS-OF-LATE?
MIKE: I've been listening to a lot of different music lately, but to stay consistent I'll stick with the slam/death metal genre and fill you all in on what has been penetrating my speakers recently…
NIGHTMARER – CHASM EP (2016)
MIKE: Everybody take a minute and check out Nightmarer, featuring former Dehumanized vocalist John Collett. Typically, I'm not a big fan of 8-string guitars tuned down to Z sounding like extra-terrestrial rubber bands, but these dudes create a legit frightful atmosphere. They recently released a 2-song EP Chasm and are currently recording a full-length to be released on Season Of Mist. I've heard some of the unreleased material and it's fuckin' demented.
BRUJERIA – POCHO AZTLAN (2016)
THANATOLOGY – LOS BARBEROS CIRUJANOS EP (2012)
MIKE: The new Brujeria album Pocho Aztlan has been in heavy rotation but I want to give a genuine Mexican grind band their due and that's Thanatology. I caught this band when Dehumanized played Las Vegas Deathfest back in June '16. They immediately caught my attention with their stage theatrics and nifty scrubs. The way the singer JUST STOOD THERE and screamed the vocal lines while either having his hands behind his back or having one of them hold up a skull put a smile on my face. Usually, if your band makes me smile or laugh during your set, it means I'm REALLY feelin' it. After Thanatology finished their set I hopped over to their merch area and bought everything.