Interview: Mutilation Rites’ George Paul

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Mutilation Rites are on the rise. The Brooklyn-based black metal quartet released three EPs and an LP in 2012 and toured extensively in the latter half of the year to support these endeavors. Add in slots at this year’s New England Metal/Hardcore Fest, South by Southwest (including the Show No Mercy showcase), as well as a forthcoming tour with Inter Arma, and it would appear that the band is poised on the edge of even bigger success. I spoke with guitarist/vocalist George Paul about influences, black metal, and what the future holds.

— Rhys Williams

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Who do you count among your main influences? Listening to your music, I hear a lot of punk/hc influences in with the black metal (y’all even list Discharge as a main influence on your FB page). Does the NYHC/punk scene have any bearing on you all musically?

Speaking personally I don’t really think so. I love Discharge and Amebix and Poison Idea, but NYHC was never really a big influence on me. I’m also from Boston originally so that might have something to do with it. I’d say Discharge and Motörhead are as big of influences on us as much as Darkthrone or Mayhem.

So much of black metal is intrinsically regional in focus: Russian black metal on Russian history, Scandinavian black metal on Scandinavia, Cascadian black metal on Cascadia. Do you all have any sort of regional or urban focus, hailing from Brooklyn, and if not, where is the bulk of your lyrical inspiration culled from? I notice a lot of astral/esoteric imagery in your releases: is that a major facet of the band?

None of our lyrics have anything to do with living in Brooklyn. Our record cover for our full length Empyrean is an interpretation of a Gustave Doré painting from “The Divine Comedy” by Dante. All my lyrics are personal problems that I use ethereal subjects as a metaphor with. I also intentionally don’t tell anybody my lyrics, including my bandmates.

Where do you see the future of black metal heading? In Brooklyn alone, you’ve got you guys and Black Anvil doing the punk metal thing while Krallice and Liturgy do the artsy stuff. Where can you see black metal evolving to in 10 years? What do you think about what other New York BM groups are trying to do with expanding the aesthetic genre of BM? Where do you see you all moving to musically?

I don’t know where black metal is heading. I think with most metal it all just comes in waves of what’s big and what isn’t. There was the thrash revival thing, and black metal, now there’s all this old school death metal coming back. Who knows. For us we write music for ourselves I think, what we would want to hear you know? I try not to overthink it.

How do you all support yourselves? Are y’all full-time or part-time musicians? How rigorous is your touring schedule?

I’m a bartender. My work lets me go on tour whenever I want so that works out for me. The other guys all work freelance so it works out for them too. We try to tour as much as we can within reason.

You guys are playing the New England Metal/Hardcore Fest in April, with Hatebreed, Shadows Fall, and Xibalba. Given the disparate styles between them and you all, what do you think about that? Feeling good to be out of mostly BM bills? Have you all generally played with BM bands in the past, or have your punk influences allowed you to do shows with a wider array of bands.

I’m glad we’re playing bigger shows and getting exposure to more people, hopefully people like the music. But I’m not really sure we’re out of BM bills, we still play with plenty of black metal bands. We’ve always played with black metal and/or crusty bands. Not really metalcore bands like on this fest though, so I suppose that’s different.

You guys recently got signed to Prosthetic Records, which is a pretty large metal label. How does it feel moving from the smaller Gilead Media to the home of Skeletonwitch and All That Remains? Does Prosthetic give you more of a chance to make your music sound the way you want, and/or provide funds to better support yourselves?

We never truly moved from Gilead Media to Prosthetic: Gilead still releases all of our vinyl, but Prosthetic has all the licensing rights to the music and puts out the CDs. Prosthetic has given us the ability to reach a wider audience with our music, which is obviously a wonderful bonus of being on a recognized label.

Kind of apropos, but necessary as you all play black metal: what do you all think about corpsepaint? Silly? Relevant? Would you ever wear it? For that matter, how much does image play a role in your aesthetic? I notice that you all look more traditionally “metal” (long hair, metal garb, etc.) than many other modern BM bands; would you define this as calculated, or is this simply who you are (i.e. is it image or non-image)?

We absolutely would never wear corpsepaint. We would never dress up in any sort of way. We look like metalheads because we are metalheads. I don’t need to wear a costume on stage to make my music seem intimidating or something like that. There are plenty of bands we have respect for that have a live aesthetic, but it’s not for us. I don’t have the patience or time for something like that. We’re a bunch of dudes making music that we like, that’s all we’ve ever been.

The last words I leave to you.

Come catch us on tour with Inter Arma this March.