It’s so cool when the younger generation of metal bands who play old school death metal do it justice like Joliet, Illinois-based band Molder does. Formed in 2017, Molder creates chunky, straight-forward metal with meaty, thrash/punk influences. The youngsters quickly recorded and produced several demos, singles, and live releases in a short period of time before unleashing their debut full-length album Vanished Cadavers in 2020.

Vanished Cadavers was unanimously praised by fans and critics alike within the underground metal universe, which ultimately spurned interest from Prosthetic Records to sign the band. For Molder, they were just out to create some of the most disgusting modern death metal they could spew out.

“I just wanted to be in a band that played music that I wanted to listen to,” guitarist/vocalist Aaren Pantke explained during a recent Zoom chat. “I didn't really want to reinvent the wheel, I didn't want to try anything new or special or fancy. I took all the shit that I worship and just tried to roll it into one thing.”

The old adage of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rings true on Molder’s second full-length album, Engrossed In Decay. The band — also including bassist Dominic Vaia, drummer Kyle Poole, and new guitarist Carlos Santini — have created 10 chugtastic tracks. By taking a “less is more” musical approach, Molder has honed in on a sound that captures their essence of what they were trying to achieve from the beginning.



“It was appropriate enough of a time to finally (recognize) that we have a definitive sound; we know what we're looking for,” Pantke said. “We said, ‘Let's start trying different shit and see if it still fits within those parameters of that.’ But with the new record, it was really just about being a continuation of the last (one). It's a bigger production, it sounds a lot better, it’s a lot more well rehearsed. It was cool to be able to put out a complete fresh take. But overall, it's in essence still Molder. I don't think it's too far away from what we've been doing.”

The songwriting sessions for Engrossed In Decay began even before Vanished Cadavers was released. Half of Engrossed In Decay was already written when the band inked their Prosthetic Records deal.

“Once Vanished… came out, the pandemic happened, so we kind of got fucked,” Pantke said. “We weren't really able to do anything with it. We definitely sold a lot of copies of it online and it generated a lot of buzz in that aspect, which is super awesome. But we didn't get to really play any shows or truly support the record properly. So we just started farting around with new shit. And by the time Prosthetic had actually reached out to us, we had five or six of the songs on the new record already completed. And once we signed that contract, it was a matter of just finishing this album and go get it recorded so we can get the ball rolling.”

Lyrically and conceptually, Engrossed In Decay captures the blood, guts and mucus themes of typical death metal, all rolled into a cohesively gruesome package. With tracks such as “Glutinous Remains,” “Chemically Dissolved,” “Huff the Stench,” and “Decomposed Embryos,” Molder pulls out all the gore-infested stops. Plus, the awesomely grotesque album cover art by Lucas Korte (Blood Incantation, Malignant Altar, Tomb Mold) really captures a vivid picture of what lies inside the sleeve.

“I’m really into death metal that's about gore and just fucked-up stuff, within reason,” Pantke explained. “I think some of it goes a little overboard and it's a little silly, but to each their own. It's all about death, gore, decay… your typical run of the mill death metal topics.”

For the recording of Engrossed In Decay, Molder holed up in Studio Novy with Cheyenne Brandt (Ares Kingdom, Nucleus) once again to engineer and mix the album, while Cianide’s Scott Carroll assisting on the engineering with the final mix handled by mastering guru Arthur Rizk (Creeping Death, Temple of Void, Sadistic Ritual). Sonically, the album is a solid blast of filthy vocals, bulldozer riffs and pummeling syncopation.

“Typically, when we go to record, my biggest thing is I just don't want it to sound too digital,” Pantke said. “We use real everything when we record; we don't trigger. We use real amps. Both records we did with Cheyenne Brandt — who’s the in-house sound engineer at Reggie's, amongst other things, and she's terrific at what she does. She knows what we sound like and what we want to sound like. I just give her the freedom to do her thing, and she's nailed it both times.”

Although Molder has performed a few out-of-state shows in the recent past, they really haven’t played too much outside of their native Chicago. Fans can catch them for their Engrossed In Decay album release show on July 22nd in Chicago at Reggie's with Immortal Bird, Mortuous, Skeletal Remains and Left To Die. Little by little, things are slowly but surely falling into place for Molder.

“I didn't really think this band would get to the point that it's gotten to,” Pantke confessed. “But I'd like to just keep the ball rolling; to just continue playing some cool shows, maybe get on some festivals or something in the future. I'm just content with putting out music, doing the local thing and doing the occasional out of state show. If we can continue to do that. I'd be more than happy.”

Engrossed In Decay is due for release on July 15th via Prosthetic Records.

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