For Mark Whelan, frontman, guitarist, and founder of vicious death metal practitioners Fuming Mouth, the creation of their latest studio effort Last Day of Sun was anything but ordinary.
"We put out The Grand Descent, our first full-length album, and we hit the ground running with it, and started touring as hard as we could. And then long story short, we got taken off of the road, obviously, because of COVID. And then I got sick with acute myeloid leukemia like a year after that," Whelan shared with Metal Injection, delving into his health scare.
"It was a bone marrow transplant. So how that works, it's not invasive with a scalpel or anything like that. They give you like an I.V. and they just blast me with chemo to get rid of the cancer. But then I have this transplant on top of it. That way, if the cancer comes back, the new bone marrow that they put in my body right after that, my doctor explained it like a huge knife, and it would be like running as fast as you could into a big knife. I was like that's a great analogy. That's extremely brutal. It's extremely metal. I like the idea that if it ever came back it would be cut in half."
Whelan's brush with the illness, naturally, bled into his work and music, resulting in an altogether darker and aggressive record. But the ideas the album holds, including an expansive, world-ending concept, were rooted in a simpler time before ailments and pandemics.
"When we finished recording The Grand Descent, I immediately was watching 30 Days Night, and there's a scene in that movie where it goes 'Last Day of Sun', and I was like 'is that the name of the record?' And lo and behold, a lot of the big ideas, and that was in 2018. And a lot of those happened before I got sick, happened before I had cancer," he shared.
"A lot of changes have happened to it, whether it was like guitar parts that change, drum parts that change, tempos all went faster. Everything just became way more extreme."
Enlisting the services of Converge's Kurt Ballou, recording the album in eerie Salem, MA, Whelan says that Last Day of Sun is The Grand Descent dialed up to 11. Bigger, heavier, and altogether a stronger product.
"Really it was just trying to make The Grand Descent better, meaning the heavier parts are heavier, as far as the big, big riffs. 'Burial Practices', the last riff in that song is my favorite riff on the record. But then it's also the melodic parts that make those stand out more. Our first album has a song, 'Distant Voice', and we have a new song on this album called 'Leaving Euphoria', and that's kind of the next step of what that kind of song for Fuming Mouth is. And I think in every single direction, we tried to make it just bigger and better."
Kicking off a North American tour on Halloween night, Whelan shares that he and his bandmates Andrew Budwey, Pat Merson, and James Davis have already stockpiled a host of B-sides from the sessions, and are rearing to get back into creative mode for the album’s successor.
"We recorded songs that didn't make it to the album release. So we've got quite a few B-sides and I'm ready to record. We're already working on a third album and already know what it's going to be called. So that hunger to like, write music, and release it is stronger than ever. As far as hitting the road, Oh man, we can't wait to hit the road with these songs, let me tell you. Especially the ones like 'Rest in Piss' and the really morbid fucked up ones I think are going to be great to play live."
10/31 Brooklyn, NY @ St Vitus
11/1 Troy, NY @ El Dorado Bar
11/2 Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East
11/3 Montreal, QC @ Le Foufounes Electriques
11/4 Toronto, ON @ Nineteen Seventy Eight
11/6 Milwaukee, WI @ X-Ray Bar
11/7 Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen
11/9 Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
11/11 Salt Lake City UT @ Aces High
11/13 Vancouver, BC @ Cobalt
11/14 Seattle, WA @ Substation
11/15 Portland, OR @ Dante's
11/17 Berkeley, CA @ Thee Stork Room
11/18 Los Angeles, CA Midnight Hour
11/19 San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick
11/20 Mesa, AZ @ Pub Rock
11/21 Albuquerque, NM @ Moonlight
11/24 Austin, TX @ Mohawk
11/25 Dallas, TX @ Cheap Steak's
11/28 Tampa, FL @ Orpheum
11/29 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
11/30 Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
12/1 Richmond, VA @ Canal Club
12/2 Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
12/3 Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts