About Me

Interview with Vitriol

On September 6, 2019, Century Media Records will release 'To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice', the first album by Portland, Oregon’s death metal group VITRIOL. Their 2017 EP, "Pain Will Define Their Death", released via Italy's Everlasting Spew, already provided a shockingly intense glimpse at the whirlwind that is to be unfurled on the much-anticipated debut record, 'To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice'. In face of all this, Metal Imperium could not let the opportunity to interview VITRIOL slide by. Here’s the conversation…

M.I. - How did you get started as a band and what or who are the biggest influences that inspired VITRIOL and your music? Why did you create VITRIOL? 

Vitriol formed from the ashes of a local band we had all previously been a part of. The band dissolved due to personal differences and my creative ambitions for my music. I knew I wanted to pursue something less compromising and self-indulgent than the previous band had been outputting, something that showed more devotion to the goal of creating a singular experience. Much of the Death Metal that I felt to define that approach was being made in the late 90s; Hate Eternal’s early work, Angelcorpse, Krisiun, Nile, Rebaelliun, Diabolic, Tucker era Morbid Angel, etc. I wanted to develop on the apparent philosophy of those bands’ sounds and where it could take me.

M.I. - Why do VITRIOL affirm that Death Metal is a genre of fear? 

Vitriol’s chief navigating principal is to champion the curation of a hostile and abject experience over all else. Every musical ambition we have is a means to serving that end. I feel that much of modern Death Metal is musical ambition within the vessel of a superficial Death Metal aesthetic. Vitriol is death under the guise of musical ambition.

M.I. - Being a rather recent band, how would you describe VITRIOL to those who aren’t familiar with your sound? What can one expect?

I often describe Vitriol as being an extreme metal band. While Death Metal feels more comfortable within the subcultural exchange, it isn’t quite concise enough. I’ve always had a ravenous appreciation for most of extreme music’s seediest and most grotesque corners. Vitriol is metal made by someone who wanted to champion that passion over the desire to pander to subcultural norms. It’s suffocating.

M.I. - People who know the band seem to be very excited with VITRIOL… saying you are what they want in a band, that you are authentic and brought back what was missing from the Death Metal genre… how do you feel when you hear people saying stuff like this?

These remarks serve as the ultimate source of validation. The record contracts, tour opportunities, these pale in comparison to the artistic reinforcement you receive from passionate metalheads who have been waiting to hear a work of passion. To know that my passion has translated to so many others is all I need to feel satisfied with what I’ve accomplished.

M.I. - Your 2017 EP “Pain Will Define Their Death” was a glimpse into your debut “To Bathe From The Throat Of Cowardice”. Both titles are quite intense. Is your main intention to shock the listener?

Certainly not. Our main intention is to be honest. Vitriol’s voice, while cruel, is very stoic. Vitriol’s intention is to display the horrific, indifferent, hostile, isolating reality of the human experience without mitigation. We don’t want to pull punches. Extreme metal has been drowning in heavy-handed novelty and fiction for a very long time. The fact that an honest accounting of contempt and disdain can serve to make so many uncomfortable is evidence of that. We’re happy to continue our attempt in creating this experience.

M.I. - "To Bathe From The Throat of Cowardice" neglects mainstream conformism in favour of a heartfelt interpretation of Death Metal. Is this reflected in your lyrics and artwork?

Thank you for saying that. That was certainly the goal, yes. Maintaining an uncompromisingly honest approach to every aspect of what we do is how we’ve seen the success that we have and how our work will continue to speak to our listeners. This resulted in some deeply personal tracks (Victim, Violence, a Worthy Truth, I Drown Nightly) and unrestricted meditations on what occurs in the absence of humanity.

M.I. - “The Parting Of A Neck” was a single released last November. It is also the 1st track of the album… was that single that got you the deal with Century Media?

It was! And that is largely why it is the first track on the LP. Placing it first felt poetic as its playthrough video is undoubtedly what launched this stage of our career. It also rips in with that killer drum fill, so it was a win-win!

M.I. - All the tracks of the EP released in 2017 are featured in the debut as well… was it a way to make the EP reach more people?

It was certainly that. We felt strongly about the strength of the EP material and felt uncomfortable with the idea of it fading into antiquity as the LP was promoted. Due to this we chose to include them but with the intention of rerecording them entirely and even reimagining some of their parts. We wanted to introduce new fans to the EP material while providing day one fans with a fresh experience.

M.I. - For the full-length did you write the lyrics separately without a specific song or rhythmic patterns or do you write it all simultaneously?

I write the music and lyrics to Vitriol completely separately. How the lyrics are assigned to which song varies from piece to piece. Sometimes the lyrical theme will fit a certain sonic character of a song. For instance, “I Drown Nightly” has a riff after the guitar solo that always left me with images of waves crashing against darkened rocks. This made it an obvious choice for the lyrical piece.

M.I. - What’s the source of your inspiration for the lyrics?

The horrible condition of being a human being and the pain that exists between what that is and what we need to be.

M.I. - The band will soon embark on an European tour with Nile and Hate Eternal. Do you have any expectations regarding that? Do you believe people in Europe are familiar with VITRIOL?

I’m not going into this tour with any expectations. I am moving forward only with a strong sense of duty and obligation to perform to our utmost. To refer to Nile and Hate Eternal as musical heroes of mine would be a genuine understatement. It’s an opportunity I’m intent on rising to. I just hope to be given the chance to prove our value to as many European fans and prospective fans as possible.

M.I. - I believe you had the chance to play these new songs live… how has the response been?

The response has been overwhelming so far. We had some out of town shows a couple months back, one of which being Las Vegas Death Fest, and the shows definitely served to provide a lot of confidence in the live viability of the new material. We can’t wait to unleash it in Europe.

M.I. - You have been very active live and people seem to be fascinated by you… what caused all this fuss surrounding you? Not all bands with one released EP get the attention you get… what’s your secret?

Create art from an authentic place. Have something to say and be true to what that is. If it is honest to you it is honest to many others. Trust that.

M.I. - The band has, at least, 2 videos: one for Victim and another one for “Violence, a worthy truth”… In this era in which people live in front of a computer and with internet access everywhere… how important are videos in order to promote a band?

Videos are likely the most important medium for getting your music heard right now. If it weren’t for the success of our YouTube videos we wouldn’t have secured the opportunities that we have managed to. I’d recommend expanding your sense of obligation as a musician to that of a videographer as well. I know it’s a bitter pill to swallow, accepting that becoming a proficient musician isn’t enough, but in 2019 it isn’t.

M.I. - What are the short-term goals for VITRIOL? And the long-term ones?

Our short-term goals are to represent this full-length album to the best of our ability. A week from the day I’m responding to this interview we are shooting our first full production music video in support of “To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice” with Brendan McGowan (Cannibal Corpse, Imperial Triumphant) and we couldn’t be more excited. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore this material in a myriad of ways.

M.I. - "The only noble future for Death Metal is one of strenuous personal responsibility. Intolerance for mediocrity, and reverence without novelty." Do you think the 
Death Metal genre needs revival? In your opinion, how is its current state?

I don’t think it necessarily needs a revival. To say that the state of anything as large as Death Metal needs anything seems a bit shortsighted. There are always incredible things happening in the underground and contemptuous things happening above. Art is a conversation that requires balance. I felt that a lot of Death Metal lately has been steered by an adolescent fetishization of indifference, lack of responsibility, and general entropy. This has manifested in laziness not only in the efforts of the artists but in the demands of the listeners. We simply want to represent other values and show others that you can be heavy and care.

M.I. - All the best for the album and for the tour. Hope you achieve all you wish for and that you come and play in Portugal someday! Please share a message with the readers of Metal Imperium.

I can’t thank you enough for you time and interest in the album and this interview. Rest assured, making it to Portugal is very high on our list of priorities. Performing this album for you guys on its cycle would be a true honor. Trust that we will do it justice!

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca