After guitarist Ryan Caddell left Marasmus a few months ago, the group scrapped most of its existing recordings. Only "Casket Made of Ivory" remains on its MySpace page. Fortunately for fans, that lone remaining track is pretty fucking great, balancing technicality, groove and vocal malevolence. Singer Devon Ferrara vows anything that bears the squiggly-sharp Marasmus logo must meet or exceed the standards of that song.
"With this type of music, it's all about what you can pull off," he says. "Extreme metal fans are usually musicians themselves, and they can tell when you're slacking."
Marasmus isn't slacking on performances, with three local gigs scheduled this week: Friday, March 20 with The Roman Holiday at the exotic Lake Lotawana VFW; Saturday, March 21 at the Riot Room alongside Moire; and Wednesday, March 25 at the Riot Room opening for Vital Remains. Speaking of that show, Vital Remains' current touring lineup, while still intense and blasphemous, showcases neither the famously inverted-cross-branded forehead of frontman Glen Benton nor the astounding chops of guitarist Dave Suzuki, both of whom are on studio-only sabbaticals. But death metal isn't really about star power.
"When it comes to this type of music, it's very rare that you run into huge egos and snotty attitudes," says Ferrara, whose year-old band has opened for the likes of Drawn and Quartered and Origin. "Most of these musicians are just glad you are there and are ready to support their bands. It's really a unique genre in that respect. I think we can speak for all of these bands when we say this is a lifestyle, not just a style of music."
For all its egalitarian charms, this genre encourages graphic, macabre lyrics, which Marasmus delivers with "Infanticide": Perfect hole I dug/deposit these young souls/bones litter the ground. "It describes a person who has to make a decision between losing his own life and following orders to carry out the most disgusting act in humanity," Ferrara explains. "The main ideology that fuels us is the violence and depravity that exists no matter how much people try to deny it: Cannibalism, rape, murder, extortion, intrusion, aggression. Not to glorify them, but these things exist, and they will always be there no matter how advanced we on Earth become. People need to come to grips with that."
"Casket Made of Ivory" contains the line "no religion," but Ferrara says it's more of a statement on the folly of postmortem ceremony. "It deals with adorning caskets, mausoleums and headstones," he says. "Humans take great care to try to make someone live forever in stone and gold, but the reality is that they're rotting in a box. We choose to stay away from religion. We are trying to raise the bar. That is our religion."
Further viewing: Marasmus split amicably with its guitarist, resulting only in a few shelved recordings. Gorgoroth wasn't so fortunate. Singer Gaahl and bassist King ov Hell dismissed founding member Infernus, with King filing a trademark registration to seize the moniker. Last week, Oslo City District Court ruled that Infernus retains the rights to the name Gorgoroth, rejecting King's claim. This verdict provides a news hook for sharing two classic black-metal interview clips, both of which star the spookily enigmatic Gaahl. After offering a memorable one-word response to the query "What is the primary ideology that fuels your music?" he musters an even more minimalist - fucking epically so, really - response to a reporter's ill-advised "guide me" prompt.