“THIS IS WHERE WE BELONG AND WE’RE NOT GOING TO PRETEND TO BE SOMEONE WE’RE NOT” – GRINDAK (ETERNAL ROT)
Lurking undead within the foulest cesspools of the underground, the contaminated cadavers of Eternal Rot have refreshingly regurgitated a noxious cascade of gore-obsessed, bile-soaked, doom-drenched Death Metal decompositions across a depraved decade of decay. Descending into terror and plundering the putridarium, vocalist / lyricist Grindak discusses drawing inspiration from expected and unexpected sources; adorning albums with twisted illustrations; expanding the zombie horde; forthcoming symphonies of sickness; and that iconic split with Coffins.
Towards the end of 2021, Eternal Rot vomited forth a horrific split release with Japanese legends Coffins. How honoured were you to get this opportunity to collaborate with these trailblazing Death / Doom icons and how much of an influence has Coffins been on the Eternal Rot sound and modus operandi?
“Ugh! We were, and in fact still are, extremely honoured. It was an idea of our friend Tomek Zagórski (Behind the Mountain Records), he actually married us for that split. Coffins are such a recognised band in the genre that basically everyone who digs Doom Death Metal knows them. We were absolutely over the moon when we found out that they agreed to share the release with us, but they are known very well for being extremely active in the splits department and very much tied to the underground, where we belong. As for influence, we do not sound like them, but their music is obviously appreciated by us. Their rawness and heaviness are unique, they are doing their own thing no matter what might currently be popular – and with such an approach we might be influenced indeed.”
Did you feel a weight of pressure or expectation going into this project? If so, it certainly doesn’t show as the two Eternal Rot offerings to the split – ‘Dreaming the Landscape of Finality’ and ‘Cemeterial Decrepitude’ – are the very embodiment of putrid, rotten, gore-drenched Death Metal filth. It was always going to take something special to be able to match or even emulate Coffins, but you have done so with aplomb … you must be very pleased with these contributions?
“Thank you very much for such compliment. There was no pressure as such, our side of the split was recorded before we even knew with whom we would be sharing it. We believed in these tracks, we wouldn’t release something half-arsed or anything we wouldn’t be satisfied with. Tomek has supported Eternal Rot from the very beginning and he instantly liked these tracks. Approaching Coffins was his idea, I think on our own we wouldn’t aim this high, but hey, for us this is the dream coming true, we are very lucky to be close with him. It is a really great feeling that we could release this split with the band from the absolute top of this vile stuff called Doom / Death Metal. People seem to like our side too, we are proud of it, some maniacs discovered us for the first time – a win-win situation on all fronts.”
Eternal Rot’s is the decomposed sound of old school horror, with zombies on the rampage and blood-spattering demise lurking at every corner. It genuinely sounds like these songs were not recorded by humans but by the living dead! The vocals are particularly sick and depraved and surely could not have emanated from a normal human – is there something you’re not telling us?
“Certainly, we’re not normal humans then, ha! We have a very particular vision for this band, and all that happens with vocals is deliberate, it has to be disgusting and vomited all over. There are reverbs, some effects, we do not have any problem with this as long as the desired effect and feel is reached. Vocals in Eternal Rot is another heavy instrument which has to be suitable to the overall feel of rotten doom we crave for. If we can give voice to the living dead for some listeners, we are delighted to do so.”
Is there any underlying theme to the split album, besides the obvious death- and zombie-worship? Did you communicate at all with Coffins before, during or after the recording? Also, what are your impressions of the two Coffins songs included?
“There was no direct communication, Tomek did all of this for us. There is no underlying theme; the only one I can think of is the most important factor: two heavy bands presenting their sound which can appeal to fans similar to ourselves. As Coffins are the band which is recognisable from the first seconds, and we were their fans from long ago, obviously we like their side. The new version of ‘Evil Infection’ sounds different from the original version from ‘The Other Side of Blasphemy’ album and it is a nice treat for their fans. As for ‘Carnal Leftovers’, of mighty Nihilist – it just rips guts, sometimes I play it a few times in a row!”
Are horror and gore the most essential ingredients in Eternal Rot’s putrefied take on Death Metal? In terms of influences, where did your passion for this style of music come from and how far can you take it realistically? Can it become any more extreme or is the challenge now to fine-tune a winning formula?
“Horror and gore are important, but inspiration lays in many, sometimes not expected, places. All of us from quite an early age are beaten and shaped by Death Metal, and this is the biggest inspiration in general. I think that inside we’re still a bunch of teenage boys feeling creeps while listening to our favourite records. This is where we belong and we’re not going to pretend to be someone we’re not. How far we can take it, we do not know yet, but it will be fascinating to find out. We’re conscious that Eternal Rot music is changing, we have access to better gear, the recording process is improved – it can lead to many outcomes while still being quite hypnotic and heavy. Yes, it can become more extreme, but we don’t want to become a wall of noise where you won’t recognise an actual track and its structure. In the end of the day, these are songs where we paint the pictures in the imagination.”
Where do you draw your lyrical inspirations from – books, movies, real life? Listening you Eternal Rot, I would be very surprised if you guys don’t watch a lot of horror movies. What are your favourites? The older, classic creations will probably never be matched, but have you managed to track down any more recent abominations worth watching?
“All of the above. As well as paintings (especially those of Zdzisław Beksiński) poems, views, landscapes, conversations, there is plenty of stuff suitable to be blended into the Eternal Rot universe. Music in general, does not have to be metal-related, but if it evokes the right feel and atmosphere it can be very inspirational. Actually we do not watch a lot of movies nowadays as there is a lack of free time of shocking proportions – life keeps us occupied too much for our liking, but we’re doing our best. I rather spend any free time with favourite albums I know from 30 or so years ago, or dig in the underground for another obscure Death or Doom Metal discovery which will blow my mind, than watch another disappointing hew horror flick. The classics won’t be matched, indeed, like Romero’s stuff, you won’t be the teenager scared by The Shinning, Alien 2 or The Exorcist ever again and the only way to reach and recreate this feel is to watch them again. I liked The Lighthouse, The VVitch, Midsommar, Hereditary, Antichrist, if you consider them as new ones but I will be more inspired by some good psychological drama especially based on true events or someone’s really fucked-up biography than an actual horror movie. Sometimes for fun I come back to a few favourite things like stuff from studios like Troma or Hammer especially. Scariest thing I’ve ever seen, and the trippiest, is Begotten, nothing ever came close to it. In current times, video games can be far more scary than the majority of the horrors, especially when immersion is unbeatable.”
Although the band was officially formed by Mayer and yourself a decade ago, Eternal Rot is a relatively new arrival on the rancid Death Metal landscape, with your full-lengths only released in 2018 (‘Cadaverine’) and 2020 (‘Putridarium’). Where have you been all this time? Was it a case of deciding to come together and form a band to release the kind of music you love listening to?
“We’ve been there all the time, crawling in the underground, as avid listeners, gig goers, record and merch buyers, keen beer drinkers, you name it. In the past, mostly the ‘90s, we had some episodes of being active friends in the towns we come from. On the other hand, Radek has been very active with quite a few bands. The trigger to form Eternal Rot was all Mayer’s creativity and meeting each other in the right time and the right place. No plans then, just one day at a time and it led us further than we could imagine. There were no expectations, just to reach a few maniacs with our vision of Metal of Death. The band is very important in our lives as, apart from being busy as partners, fathers, all work, etc., it gives us a way of expressing ourselves in the best way possible. Something more than a typical hobby as there is much feel and emotions in there. We’re Death Metal freaks who happened to do music we love the most and have been lucky to be released by great labels.”
The gatefold jacket of the Eternal Rot / Coffins split is adorned with truly breath-taking artwork. Mark Riddick’s twisted, nightmarish illustrations have become a key component of the Eternal Rot aesthetic. How does this process work – do you give him a brief on what imagery you’d like to convey or does he have complete artistic licence to come up with a creation to match the music?
“It blows our minds when we think that his art is on our records and merch. We’ve been fans of his talent from long ago, and we would never imagine that one day he would draw awesome horror worlds for us. With the way the process works, it is bit of both, we describe an idea for an album or mention the track or album title and he has an absolute free hand with what he draws. If we think about any particular element we would love to see on the drawing, he always takes it under consideration. He is a Metal Maniac himself, so combined with his unique talent, only great stuff can come out of it. Believe me, every single time our expectations were absolutely demolished – in a good way! Usually, Mark sends us the sketch with his vision, we go mad over it in excitement, then he finishes the artwork.”
With the addition of Radek on drums, Eternal Rot has been a festering three-piece since 2019. Prior to that, you were using programmed drumming. Why did you decide to bring in a real drummer – does it give the music a more organic sound? Is this your settled line-up now going forward?
“Most probably we would still be using a drum machine, as it turned out, if Radek had not offered his help. We knew him before, we liked his style of playing in Neuropathia / Squash Bowels / The Dead Goats. He liked Eternal Rot, so we were more than happy when the idea of recording the drums for us appeared. He actually made the new version of our logo too. He definitely added more air to our sound and it is more natural, he has this great vibe and feel in his play, hits hard when needed. As we’re not playing live, which in this case suits everyone involved, Radek smoothly became a permanent band member. There are no plans to make this zombie horde any bigger.”
Have you been working on any new material? As both records appear to be sold out at this stage, are there any plans to reissue the first two albums on vinyl? Is performing live at some point a viable prospect for Eternal Rot?
“We started this band on the agreement that there will be no gigs, none of us feel any desire to do so with Eternal Rot, and through these ten years nothing has changed in this department. Radek is active live as a member of Meat Spreader (Punk influenced Gore Grind) and The Tombs (here he performs bass and they play Californian Punk Rock). There are some plans for vinyl represses, indeed. Recently we had a chat about this but no details yet; hopefully we can share some news about it this year. With regards to new material, there was a lot going on in our cemetery. In fact, we are waiting now for two releases. Our new full-length album will be released on July 24th, 2023 under the banner of Memento Mori from Spain (CD) and our old friend Greg – Godz Ov War Productions (vinyl, cassette – there will be some merch too). We are hyped as fuck for it; the album contains six tracks which are digging graves and disturbing the coffins, very suitable to whistle during your shift in the mortuary. The second release is not announced yet, but we can say it is a split with a band we absolutely love and I bet you like tem too! Another dream coming true. Both releases feature brand new artwork from Mark Riddick, of course, and this is feast for the eyes. As you can tell, we are really lucky corpses!”