As of last month Virginia’s Construct of Lethe have a compilation, a full length, and an EP’s worth of aggressive death metal out for public consumption and two of those hit within this year. Tony Petrocelly originally started this band as sort of a catch all for material from some of his past bands. But once the ball started rolling and the lineup was cemented, the band took a life all its own. And we, as death metal fans, have benefitted from the outcome. Both Corpsegod and The Grand Machination show a group fully immersed in the old ways of death metal but forward thinking at the same time; technical playing, trash metal speed, and black metal riffs all combine to produce a bludgeoning version of death metal as we know it. We recently spoke to the band and asked the burning questions, see what they had to say after the jump.
Tony Petrocelly (Guitar, Bass): I’ve always loved music and wanted to play it for as long as I can remember. I started playing guitar as soon as I got a job and could afford one, and haven’t stopped since that day. I’d say yes, I’ve achieved successes, but it’s a sliding scale. When I was a kid, success meant playing a Metallica song all the way through. Then playing in a band, then playing a show, then playing a big show, then releasing an album, and on and on. I’ve built a recording studio and started a record label, and even though these things are small at the moment, everything starts somewhere; hopefully I’ll be able to find some measure of success with them as well.
Dave Schmidt (Vocals): I got seriously into music in 5th or 6th grade, and metal was it since then. Picked up playing bass when I was 14, then started doing vocals for bands around 22, eventually got a drum kit a year or so later. The level of success? If even one person likes what I do, I’d call that a success.
Patrick Bonvin (Lead Guitar): I got into music at the very beginning of my life, since my mother is a piano teacher. So I naturally started playing piano when I was a kid and switched to playing guitar at 10 years old because it fit my tastes better.
Tony: Luckily my integrity is intact in regards to that. I guess as an embarrassing story, an old band Dave and I played in called Bethledeign played a show with Destroyer 666, and after their set I drunkenly harassed them about how tall they looked compared to me, and their leather and spikes. They assured me they did not like me.
Dave: I’ve never debased myself, or necessarily been embarrased, however I did spend a night on a street corner in London when I was helping out Dying Fetus. The bus driver never came to get us after a show at the Underworld, totally vanished. So we made a shanty town out of gear and merch boxes. Got to see a bum fight. Good times.
Tony: It’s great to see the massive popularity metal has now, the amount of people creating bands, and the accessibility and overall quality of it all. But it’s a double-edged sword. With so many bands around, it’s hard to sift through everything to find something truly special; it’s gotten to the point where pretty much every band is full of competant musicians, so it’s more a matter of taste than quality these days. As for the worst of metal, I’d say subgenres being codified into rigid constructs, making bands less dynamic, less creative, more homogenized. I can’t stand djent bands or slam metal, they’re the worst offenders in terms of writing music that is so samey and uninspired that it might as well be plagiarism.
Dave: The popularity, yeah, that is huge.
Tony: The thing I’m probably most outspoken about is the damage religions do to our species, and luckily Dave and I see eye to eye on that. His lyrics are incisive and as time passes, are only getting more creative, expansive and well researched.
Tony: Even as a small child I was always listening to music, be it on the radio or my parents’ LP’s and cassettes, and I was always drawn to the fastest and most aggressive music I could get my hands on. I remember being 8 when Girls, Girls, Girls by Motley Crue was released and sitting in front of the radio all day until it came on. What really solidified metal for me was seeing the video for One by Metallica. I was 9, and it was a total mindfuck. From there, I discovered Faith No More, Megadeth, Slayer, then Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, then everything else. My parents did not care for it.
Dave: My sister gave me her …And Justice For All tape in like ’91, and when I’d go buy stuff at Games Workshop around that time they’d always be playing Bolt Thrower, which is the first time I heard death metal. Bought Realm of Chaos then and there. Mom thought it was a phase. Ha.
Patrick: What got me into metal was the artwork of the records. As a kid I was avid for human anatomy and especially skulls and bones, and when I first saw a metal band shirt with a skull I said to myself that I needed to know what the music was. I was 10 years old.
Tony: Umm…I can’t recall ever being overly sticky.
Dave: I did a photo shoot for something or another and wanted to be covered in blood, and heard that corn syrup is a great stand in for that. All in my hair, totally drenched in this crap. The pictures ended up being black and white and the blood just looked like water. Fail.
Tony: The best advice I could give is do it because you love it, not because you feel an obligation to do it. Never give up, and never stop being creative.
Dave: If you like it, share it as much as possible. Anything helps.
Tony: My goal is to continue creating, and to be able to share that with as many people as possible. My hobbies all tend to revolve around music one way or another; I’ve been recording my own music in my studio (Trepan Studio) for a long time, and just recently things are breaking open in terms of recording/mixing/mastering other people’s bands. Edgewood Arsenal Records, the label I started in order to release Construct of Lethe material is going to be branching out to release more than just us, and I’m currently working on illustrating a couple album covers for local bands; some of my artwork will be in The Grand Machination’s booklet.
Dave: My goal for Construct is to make the death metal I’ve always wanted to hear and with any luck, others will want to hear it as well.
Patrick: Playing this kind of music is a spiritual process.
Tony: I love the first four Danzig records, the new Soilwork is great; there are a couple of local Virginia bands who are really noteworthy, who are all working on new material–The Day of the Beast (thrashy death metal), Cammo Shorts (grind), and LORD (a little bit of everything).
Dave: I really only listen to metal, indistrial makes its way in there as well. Whore of Bethlehem and WarThrone are excellent bands to check out as far as current stuff.
Patrick: Bjork is one of the most talented artists in the universe. She’s awesome and her last album Vulnicura is no exception to the rule. I’ve also recently fallen in love with the bands Now, Now, their latest record Threads being a gem, and Lydia. Beside this, I listen to a lot of black-metal, there are so many amazing young bands such as AWE, Sinmara, End, Slidhr, NŽvoa, Zhrine, Almyrkvi, The Great Old Ones, Outre, Azavatar and many more.