Mostly Yelling #12: Alchemy of Flesh Transmutes the “Ageless Abominations” of Death Metal
One-man death metal machine Tim Rowland is back with his latest project named Alchemy Of Flesh. The concept behind the project is fairly straightforward – write riffs rooted in Morbid Angel sludginess with the ferocity of bands like Hate Eternal, Incantation, Cannibal Corpse, Monstrosity. Throw in some lyrics inspired by old school video games like Quake or Tomb Raider II and you've got the upcoming debut Alchemy Of Flesh album, Ageless Abominations.
Beyond the music, Alchemy Of Flesh is also the first-ever album to feature artwork from Mike Browning (Nocturnus AD, ex-Morbid Angel). Rowland added that much like the music found on the album, Browning added a certain layer of nostalgic goodness. "[It] reminds me of Doom or Quake, which are two of my favorites! It's definitely a monstrosity, but almost has this spiritual vibe to it, instead of just being something purely brutal. It feels like something ancient and wise," said Rowland in the below interview.
Alchemy Of Flesh was born from Woccon, right? Solace in Decay was such a great album. Do the two projects have any crossover at all, or is this something completely new?
Oh sweet, thanks for that! Alchemy of Flesh was born more from my several iterations of one-off death metal projects, but more recently I'd say Sculpted Horror that released on a demo on cassette with Redefining Darkness Records in 2018. It has no relation to Woccon (RIP). I'd like to think that Alchemy is more of a totally new venture and a personal refinement of my death metal creativity. I bounced all over the place prior to this album and it took more than a couple years to nail down the formula of what I like the best and what sound I prefer in this genre specifically. That became Alchemy of Flesh.
Obviously there's a Morbid Angel influence behind the music. Were there any other outstanding influences behind the record?
The funny thing was that about six years ago, I came up with a concept of starting a Morbid Angel worship project under the name Alchemy of Flesh, inspired by how Gruesome did the Death worship thing. Like being completely open with that approach and concept. I recorded some things here and there but never took it anywhere. Fast forward to early 2020 and I returned to that same concept and started writing this album.
After about three or four songs I started drifting into other influences as well and just went with it. I would say that naturally some Hate Eternal, Incantation, Cannibal Corpse, Monstrosity, etc started creeping its way into my writing by the time the album was finished. So the core concept shifted from "MA worship" to a "MA foundational" approach. I had zero intentions to create anything super groundbreaking and original. I just wrote exactly what I wanted to hear.
What was it like working with Mike Browning on the artwork? I had no idea he was doing art.
It's still crazy to me that all of that happened. Obviously, I've been a big fan of Mike and his works with Nocturnus previous and Nocturnus A.D. now. I followed him on Facebook some few years ago and he always posts his weirdly inspiring 3D art. When I started writing this album I knew I wanted to get something 3D as an ode to that mid to late 90s window of when that type of art was a thing, like Monstrosity's "Millennium" and "In Dark Purity". Also the album's lyrical themes were shaping up to be super video game influenced so I thought that concept would be perfect.
Since Mike was literally the only person I knew that did it I messaged him to see if he would be interested. He didn't see the message or respond until almost 8 months later I believe and then he responded much to my surprise stating that he would definitely be interested in giving it a shot. This was the first album art he's ever done. I sent him the unmastered tracks and told him that I basically wanted something underground lava inspired with some sick ass monster. Basically what you see on the album cover was pretty much what he nailed down out of the gate, besides a few adjustments and tweaks.
Reminds me of Doom or Quake, which are two of my favorites! It's definitely a monstrosity, but almost has this spiritual vibe to it, instead of just being something purely brutal. It feels like something ancient and wise.
What's your favorite song (most fun to play, most proud of, etc.) off Ageless Abominations?
This is hard to say for me. It would probably be the song I actually almost threw away in the writing process, “Fiamma Nera Rites”. It's one of the two songs written on 6-strings instead of the usual 7-strings; the other being “Lava Storm”. It felt kinda underwhelming to me at the beginning, but after all the instruments were in and the vocals were tracked, it was the biggest surprise. It came out super catchy and felt like something you'd hear on Headbanger's Ball back in the early 90's and it has that Morbid Angel Blessed are the Sick vibe about it too.
“Fiamma Nera Rites” is also lyrically inspired by Tomb Raider II, so that helps with its "underdog" quality. I also thought there was no way I could pull off writing death metal lyrics about a PS1 Tomb Raider game. It was destined to fail twice and managed to be a song that helped me break through my own barriers about how a death metal song is supposed to be written. But really, they're all my favorites honestly.
What's your plan for the remainder of 2021?
Just keep the ball rolling as much as I can. Actually put effort into social media this time. Write new material. Find dedicated and talented bandmates to prepare for what may come. I'd love to start a new album and play live! After all, I wrote the songs so they would be as translatable as can be in a live setting. Every song was written with live performance in mind. But for real, I have no idea where this year will go.
Ageless Abominations releases August 13th, 2021 via Redefining Darkness.