Sharper than Ever: An Interview with Vicious Blade
There was always a certain charm to early thrash metal. It was more raw and dangerous than what it would come to be, relying on that same desire for the music to reach a terminal velocity, but with an aura that exuded something a bit more sinister and unpredictable. Somehow though, despite that knife and dagger attitude, it never lost sight of the fun that made early metal so enchanting.
Vicious Blade are relative newcomers to the scene, but are already on their way to positioning themselves as the inheritors to thrash’s leather-bound throne. Established in 2019 by veterans of Pittsburgh's bustling underground music scene, the band quickly released their eponymous EP, a short collection of bestial metal songs that felt like receiving an uppercut from a stud-gloved fist. However as much as it hurt, Vicious Blade's ecstasy from performing music they genuinely cherished is what you stumbled away remembering.
Now, Vicious Blade are back and have just released their excellent sophomore effort Siege of Cruelty, which is everything the first EP was, but more; the production is sturdier, the guitars ooze malevolence, and the vocals sound summoned from the very pits of hell themselves. Still, the record manages to cling to the carefree, fun-loving spirit the genre’s proginators so effortlessly poured into their music, and it’s that balance that makes Siege of Cruelty such an addictive and enthralling listen.
We spoke to vocalist Clarissa about the band's genesis, Pittsburgh's metal metal scene, and why Sodom is so damn awesome.
The line-up of Vicious Blade is made up of members from some other, well known bands, most notably Castrator (who just released their excellent debut album Defiled and Oblivion) and Don Cabellero. How did you all come together?
My former band Tartarus was playing a benefit show back in Nov. of 2019. We had Cold Mass play that show with us and I remember being approached by Erik and he had asked if I wanted to play in a Sacrilege-worship type of band with Jeff and himself. Tartarus was going on a hiatus so I was very enthusiastic about doing this, and of course I'm a huge Sacrilege fan so I was so down. Kevin joined on drums, Dan joined later and it went from there...it all happened so fast. We’ve all known each other for some time within the scene, so it was cool that we weren’t just a bunch of strangers.
Where did the name Vicious Blade come from?
Erik came up with the name. I just remember we were all pulling our hair out trying to agree on a name, haha. I remember at one point writing words on paper, cutting them up, and rearranging them to come up with something haha. It was 2019/2020....it's so hard to find an original name nowadays. but Erik came up with Vicious Blade. It fits the band well and it fits the style of music we created.
The band is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is the second biggest city in the state. While Philly's music scene is talked about pretty frequently, what can you tell us about the Pittsburgh scene?
I think our scene is pretty healthy compared to most places honestly. Lately it's been doing pretty well. There's a lot of doom and slower music here...there is hardly any thrash or speed around. Pittsburgh is a very industrial place so maybe that plays into the abundance of doom and gloom here haha.
Since shows are back after covid, I'm noticing a lot of young people coming out to shows that I've never seen before...fresh faces. This makes me very excited and hopeful. We need young people coming to shows...that's how we’re going to keep this music alive.
Vicious Blade’s music has a very thrashy, first wave black metal feel in the grooves and chaotic solos, but also comes across as very punk-driven. Who are some of your influences for this sound? What do you think of the relationship between punk and metal these days?
I've mentioned we were initially very influenced and inspired by Sacrilege's sound. But Discharge, Anti Cimex, Venom, Onslaught, Nuclear Assault, Sodom, Bathory, KAT those are a few huge influences of ours as well. I think there's a lot of crossover bands out there. I really love Bonehunter from Finland… They come to mind when I think of newer crossover. But there’s tons out there in the underground scenes!
What do you think it is about metal–particularly extreme metal–where a band like Vicious Blade whose music hearkens back to the genre’s beginnings can still find notoriety in the underground?
I love the extreme aspect of metal...the aggressive sound, and aggressive feeling it stirs in me. For instance, I think aggressive music paired with aggressive activities like combative sports is a perfect combination. I am a lover and competitor in combative sports myself… I admire Nasty Savage in that regard. They blend the worlds of underground metal and underground wrestling very well…
I think Vicious Blade brings a similar aggression and venom to the table. We keep it alive and we want people to feel it. There’s not a lot of bands out there that actually have that, but I think we do.
Also, Jeff and I box so maybe we can, like, bite someone’s ear off onstage or something to create some notoriety for us? haha.
Your lyricsm with Castrator has a very feminist slant to it, which is honestly quite refreshing to see in a modern death metal band. When I read the lyrics to "Siege of Cruelty" I picked up on some lines that seem to tread on similar territory, but could also be applied in a wider, more society-at-large context. Were they meant to have this dual meaning?
So I am not responsible for Castrator’s lyrics. I DO NOT write the lyrics for Castrator. However I DO write the lyrics for Vicious Blade. Your assumption is correct that the lyrics to “Siege of Cruelty” have dual meaning. They can apply to interpersonal conflict and can apply to what we’re seeing regarding the senseless war in the Ukraine. The lyrics are about Resentment leading to war. Not being able to control wanting to get even.
Speaking of "Siege of Cruelty," that is also the title of your new EP. What’s the meaning behind the name?
Clarissa: After writing the lyrics for "Siege of Cruelty" I was having a hard time figuring out a title for the song itself. But being that this song has a Sodom vibe to it, I got the idea from Sodom's "Obsessed by Cruelty," haha. I thought siege of cruelty was a perfect title for the EP since the theme of humanity’s cruel nature is very present throughout the lyrics of all the songs.
There’s a pretty marked improvement sonically on Siege of Cruelty as compared to your eponymous 2020 EP. What was different about the recording process for this as compared to your last effort?
This EP is way heavier and way more venomous than the first EP. After we recorded the first demo we realized we sounded similar to Sodom with my vocals and the instrumentals combined… so we just wrote heavier sounding stuff. We all felt a lot more comfortable recording this time around as well… we felt very in our element.
Now that touring is opening up again, it seems you have some shows lined up. Can we expect more touring in the future? Who are some acts you’d like to share the stage with?
We would love to tour! We want to get out there! We just have to work out the logistics and find a booking agent and get all the details figured out. But yes that is our plan. I personally would absolutely love to share the stage with Midnight. I’ve been wanting that to happen for some time now haha. Also maybe playing a fest with, like, Venom Inc, Bulldozer, Nasty Savage on the bill… that would be incredible.
I’d love to play a show with Pink Mass eventually too…I have some ideas haha. I hope some of them manifest!
Siege of Cruelty is out now via Our Ancient Future.