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In October 1998 Relapse Records released “Gore Metal”, the debut of Death Metal band Exhumed. The title would define a subgenre within death metal and its sound would influence thousands of clone bands. After a rollercoaster ride of a career, including a hiatus and several side projects being born from within the band, Metal Imperium asked Matt Harvey, among other things, if he still listens to the 98 record and how relevant is Death Revenge, their new outing.

M.I. - We are virtually counting the hours for the release of Death Revenge. Can you give us a quick intro on what we might expect?

Well, it's an Exhumed record, so it'll be fast, heavy, with lots of blast beats and such, haha! But it's also a concept album that features some film-score type interludes, a 6+ minute instrumental and some other stuff we haven't really done before. So it's basically familiar, but with some differences as well. I think it's our best album yet.

M.I. - This album was produced by Jarrett Pritchard, with whom you worked before in your other projects. Why did you think he was a good choice for the Exhumed sound?

He's someone we know and respect, and we wanted to go to a different studio this time, just to avoid getting repetitive. Jarrett was working for Suffocation when we toured with him and we got along really well, but we also felt that he was someone that could give us a little bit of a push. I talked to him about what we had in mind, sonically, and he was into it. We used a bunch of different gear and things that we hadn't tried before, and I'm really happy with how it came out. We wanted something that was pretty raw and real sounding, but still really high-quality and clear. I feel like we achieved what we were going for. 

M.I. - Do you still go for the chorus first and build the song around it?

It depends on the song. Usually once I get one or two parts that I feel are pretty good, the rest of the song comes together pretty quickly. The chorus will always be the most important element of the song for me as a writer though. It will dictate how much time you spend developing the other parts in order to keep the chorus the main focus. I'm very much a subscriber to the “pop” song writing technique and try to make our songs as memorable as possible. 

M.I. - American changed politically since Necrocracy, which was kind of your political manifesto. What are your thoughts on Trump America and how does that affect/influence your writing for this LP?

I hated Trump when he was a sleazy real-estate developer, I loathed him when he was a “reality” TV star, and I keep finding ways to detest him more and more since he's become president. Honestly, I had a lot of concerns about the unrestrained growth of the finance sector of the economy, the demise of organized labour, the build-up of the surveillance state, and the devastating effects of predatory lending / capitalism during the Obama years. All of those things have gotten worse or more dangerous since Trump has taken office. I was brutally discouraged after the election, and honestly just kind of depressed for a couple weeks. This record, however, is kind of a good escape hatch, because it's completely divorced from current events. It's a concept album about a series of murders that took place in the late 1820s in Edinburgh, Scotland. So it's a nice way to turn off my brain from the constant barrage of political catastrophes that seem to unfold on a daily basis here in the states. 

M.I. - The 5 years stop Exhumed had allowed you to start side projects that became quite big. You could have easily moved along with a few of them but instead you decided to get your firstborn out of his grave… Was he calling for your attention?

I just had lost interest in Death Metal for a while because the guys from the Anatomy is Destiny line-up quit over a 2 year period or so, and there just didn't seem to be much going on with the band and the kind of Death Metal that I've always liked. It seemed like technical and slam Death Metal was really all that was going on, and we've never fit in with those kinds of bands. Over time though, I kept coming up with these more brutal kinds of riffs and stuff, and stepping away from DM and Grindcore for a while made it sound really fresh in my ears again. I also enjoyed playing with different musicians and learning from them (and I still do) and that helped give me the confidence to try and get Exhumed going again. 

M.I. - Do you ever go back twenty years and listen to “Gore Metal” and its crazy recording sessions and “behind the curtain” stories? What feelings does the old discography bring you?

I always thought Gore Metal turned out really badly, which is something of an unpopular opinion, but it was just miles away from what we wanted it to be at the time. I've come to accept it a bit now and even occasionally enjoy hearing a track off it now and then. I like the songs on the record, though and enjoy playing them live. A lot of the old stuff I really enjoy though. I think Slaughtercult is probably my favourite of the first three records. I'm proud of what we accomplished with that incarnation of the band, it definitely exceeded anything we thought that it could become and I'm very grateful for that. We had a blast playing all over and meeting a lot of awesome people that are still close friends to this day, so there's a lot of positive memories there. 

M.I. - You were a teenager when you got Exhumed together, back in the 90’s. What was that like, influences wise?

When we first started in 90 / 91 we listened to mostly stuff that current at the time like Death, Pestilence, Autopsy, Repulsion, Carcass, Terrorizer, Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror, Prophecy of Doom, Master, Sadus, Hexx, Entombed, Carnage, Incantation, Immolation, Atrocity (GER), Dismember, Grave, Goreaphobia, Blood, Impetigo, Mortician, Obituary, Convulse, Crypt of Kerebos, Abhorrence, Immortal Fate, Blasphemy, (LA) Nausea, Godflesh and stuff like that. We also still listened to some stuff that was a bit older like Kreator, Coroner, Celtic Frost, Sodom, and Voivod. A few years later, like '94/'95 we started listening to a lot more of the more obscure 80s Thrash stuff like Razor, Assassin, Protector and Infernal Majesty and kind of rediscovered Metallica and Slayer, as well as a lot of the powerviolence stuff that was coming out at the time like Crossed Out, Neanderthal, Assuck and Spazz. Take all of that stuff, put it in a blender and throw in a dash of Iron Maiden, Venom, Mercyful Fate, and Hellhammer, and there we are.

M.I. - Are you heading to Europe soon to promote Death Revenge?

We're working on some plans for early 2018 right now. Stay tuned!

M.I. - A final message for our readers at Metal Imperium!!

Thanks for reading and supporting Exhumed! It means a lot to us and we hope to come back and play for you soon! Hail and Kill – and as always STAY DEAD!

For Portuguese version, click here

Interview by Vasco Rodrigues