Malignant Altar Revisits “Ceremonial Decapitator” On New Single (Song Premiere + Interview)
Heaviness. You know what I'm talking about. The good stuff. Completely suffocating thickness -- what we were all in search of when we first got into metal. A weighted stomp, a harrowing howl, and knife-cut dropouts. Malignant Altar's doomed death metal is the impetus, a slow march to the burial and a heavy obsidian blade to the back of the neck. First featured on their debut (iPhone recorded) demo cassette, "Ceremonial Decapitator" is a plodding exercise in this primordial idea of "heaviness" which we all crave when it comes to traditional death metal. Chugging, sluggish, lugubrious, these Houstonians follow a different path from the "new old school death metal" which has become so loved in the greater scene.
Lightly treading on the heels of the more doomed death metal one might expect from a band like the legendary Mythic or Derkéta, Malignant Altar's violence draws from doom metal's speed and density, communicating their brand of death metal in shades of the rotting blood's brown and red. It's horrifying stuff, but still catchy in its own right. Using rhythm as a weapon, the newly recorded "Ceremonial Decapitator," which is streaming ahead of Realm of Exquisite Morbidity's December release, Malignant Altar hacks again and again and again, removing the listener's head in a violent series of arcing blades and unleashed fury. Listen to "Ceremonial Decapitator" and read an interview with vocalist Wilson Prevette below.
"Ceremonial Decapitator" is one of Malignant Altar's oldest songs, first released on your debut demo in 2019. What was it like revisiting this song on your debut full-length album?
I believe that it was technically our fourth song that we wrote, but we recorded that particular demo with an iPhone at our practice space and dubbed the tapes the day of our first show so that we’d have something to give out. It’s great to finally hear it with a proper recording and the lyrics fully written.
If I'm not mistaken, the lyrics describe this song as one about a ritual decapitation. Am I far off? What is this song about?
The song is about the Amazon's Jivaroan tribes' practice of severing and shrinking heads so you were not far off.
Your vocal style hearkens back to the days of death metal yore, before people figured out "splatter" vocals and instead expressed rage and disgust through a more natural and vaguely human sound. Who are your biggest influences from that era and why?
Dave Edwardson on "Locust Star" by Neurosis, Dave Vincent’s vocals on Covenant (especially "Lion’s Den"), Rottrevore’s dual approach, just about everything from Immolation, and Hevi-era Corrupted are my favorite vocals out there. They all enunciate while still sounding brutal and non-splattery, as you mentioned, without many effects (if any). Strictly power.
Death metal lyrics are misunderstood for the most part when it comes to violent, gory music like this -- they are often complex and poetic, as is the case with the "Ceremonial Decapitator" lyrics. What do you look to achieve with your lyrics?
I always loved reading well-written lyrics from the CD booklet as a kid, especially when it came to death metal, so I tried my best to achieve that on the record. Definitely wanting to write something that people will not ignore and want to read again and again.
In this current death metal Renaissance, where do you feel Malignant Altar fits? Do you feel that you are a part of this greater movement?
We’re just floatin' around doing our thing. We've written something that we’d want to listen to and hope that others with similar taste can appreciate it as well. There are plenty of current bands that we dig so I’m more than happy to be a part of this heavy death awakening.
Realms of Exquisite Morbidity features a much more suffocating sound than your demos. What led to this thickening in sound?
We wrote the first batch songs in quick succession and took our time a bit on the album. Different ideas that we had on the demo were expanded upon so, hopefully, that shows. Only thickness is real.
Malignant Altar worked with a few labels in the past, more specifically the celebrated Maggot Stomp, before finding its home at Dark Descent Records. What was your journey as an independent act like before becoming a signed artist?
Infinite respect and gratitude to every helping hand that assisted us with getting our name out there to the world. We don’t play live much so the journey itself mostly consisted of us writing a record that we were proud of and considering who might be mutually excited to release it. Our fellow Houstonians in Oath of Cruelty and Imprecation are both on Dark Descent so that became the next logical step.
Preorder Realms of Exquisite Morbidity from Dark Descent Records.