The Underground Sounds Of America: Green Death
In many ways, Green Death are living the heavy metal dream. The Des Moines, Iowa, quintet have risen higher in notoriety with each album, their gothic power-thrash sound scratching that perfect all-purpose metal spot with a mixture of chugging guitars, unpredictable percussion, and booming clear vocals. This year’s Hallowmass, a huge, all-in marathon of riffy anthems about Lovecraftian horrors and ancient rites, was just released on legendary and recently-reinvigorated label Combat Records, whose new benefactor, Megadeth bassist and Combat alum Dave Ellefsen, took a shine to the band, and even leant them his talents.
“After we were signed to Dave’s label, he came out and played Peace Sells with us at the release show for our second album Manufacturing Evil,” says vocalist/bassist Sol Bales. “Months later, while we were writing for the next album, I discussed with the band how awesome it would be to have Dave. We sent him the song and asked about having him play bass on it and he agreed. He recorded it in Arizona while we were in the studio in Des Moines.”
Their dedication to the metal of old is one of the things that sets Green Death apart from the pack. Their music lacks compromise and irony, forsaking genre niches and fads in exchange for a unique hybrid of aspects from the genre’s long history. Tracks like Bullet Of Silver and Sickle & Scythe gallop forward with groove metal muscle, while Curse The Heavens and Bad Omens smack of Life Of Agony’s raw emotionality. Even their name is a tribute to one of their audible musical influences influences.
“When our previous band ended after about 10 years, we were looking to change directions and pick a new name,” says Sol. “I put it on their as sort of a tribute to Type O Negative with the Green and Black themes they always used. Death was representing the black theme. After our graphic artist here in Des Moines came up with the logo, we were sold even more on the name.”
Touched in our deep, denim-clad hesher core, we contacted Green Death to find out how they got things juuust right:
1) If you had to play a new listener one Green Death song to introduce them to the band, what would it be and why?
I would probably have them check out Sickle & Scythe off of our new album Hallowmass, because it represents all of the different genres we like to touch on in the music we create. It has the thrash basis, with some death metal stuff going on in the chorus, and at the end it mixes in a doom element with some power metal vocals. You won’t always get all four of those in one song from us, but we do try and have those styles represented on every album.
2) Who are your five biggest musical influences?
For myself it’s a mix of guitarists and vocalists (I write guitar parts in the band, though I just sing live): Bill Steer from Carcass, Glenn Danzig, Ronnie James Dio, Henry Rollins, and then I guess for the last one, I’ll pick a band: Metallica. Though if I’m allowed a sixth, I would say Megadeth.
3) Outside of music, what hobby or activity are you most passionate about?
My only real hobbies have ever been music related — either playing guitar or collecting vinyl. Beyond that for me right now is weightlifting.
4) How does being from Des Moines inform Green Death’s music?
When I was younger, Des Moines wasn’t nearly as “hip” as it has become in the past ten years or so, so there was a lot of boredom. I was pretty much an outcast as far as music tastes go, so I would spend my time discovering a lot of bands and watching horror movies, which I think helped influence the dark themes in our music. I think that most of us just have an appreciation of a wide range of styles, and that pushed us to expand from just straightforward thrash.
5) Who would be on Green Death’s dream tour?
Is it completely lame that we would be the opening band for my dream tour? Heh, well, even so my dream tour would be us opening for Carcass, Paradise Lost, and Glenn Danzig.
Green Death’s Hallowmas is out now on Combat Records. Order it here.
WORDS: Chris Krovatin