Saturday, February 4, 2012

Resurrection Of Ancient Hordes Of Death : EXMORTIS! An Interview with Brian Werking!

The Ancient Cult of Death had been finally resurrected from the tomb of slumber of more than a decade! It's a great moment for the true followers and fans of one of the most magnificent and influential Death Acts from United States!

Exmortis was formed in 1987 in Maryland and released its two cult demos 'Descent into Chaos' & 'Immortality’s End' around 1988-1989. Such influential releases had put them in league of major players as Morbid Angel or Death, and found them over increasing number of underground followers. Exmortis went on playing live with top notch Acts like Deceased,  Goreaphobia, Dr. Shrinker, Ripping Corpse, Prime Evil, Internal Void and countless others. In the prime of their short lived career, Exmortis finally broke up under unfortunate circumstances in the late summer of 1990. After disbanding Exmortis still made comebacks with completely different line up and once with an alias name 'Bloodless' to avoid legal issues of Exmortis copyright. But nothing was stable till 2010 when Brian Werking got back the copyright of Exmortis as it was available and music was beginning to churn out again. Exmortis sprouted much talk in late January, 2011 with release of 'Unhallowed Graves', which was a compilation of fan favourite songs. Also 'Darkened Path Revealed', complete discography re-mastered and released by Necroharmonic Records by May 2011. 
And finally Exmortis released its first new material after more than a decade in December 20th, 2011. 'Resurrection.. The Book Of Dead' EP was released by none other than cult Spanish record label, Extreem Music. Exmortis is presently writing materials for its upcoming untitled full length to be released by Extreem Music. 
Recently Putrid Ascendancy spoke with 'The Man' behind the sinister cult of Exmortis, one of the most prolific and iconic figures in Death Metal. Here we present you the brief conversation with none other than great BRIAN WERKING.

 PA: Greetings from India, We at Putrid Ascendancy welcome you, Brian.

BW: Thank you brothers, It’s an honor to do this interview with you guys. Good work with the blog.

PA: As we reckon Exmortis to be one of the most twisted, fast, influential bands to emerge out from the USA, Can you tell us how the seeds of Exmortis were sown?

BW: Well, to take you back to the beginning, Exmortis was born in my bedroom at my parent’s house in 1987.  I invited Chris Wiser over to jam and there it took off.  He eventually had to switch to Bass Guitar because his guitar skills at the time weren’t up to standards, but he did a killer job at Bass. Chris first named the band Virulent Rage until I heard the word Exmortis in a few horror flicks I watched.  I convinced him to make the name change.  Anyway, later that year we got together with Ted, Lee and Mike to form a complete band.  Ted quit the band for personal reasons.  With Mike as our singer we recorded the “Descent into Chaos” demo in July of 1988.  Soon after that Mike quit the band for personal reasons so we were a 3 piece act.  While we were auditioning for a singer I started dabbling into vocals myself and we liked it so I continued to scream forth Blasphemies.  A couple of weeks before we were to record the “Immortality’s End” demo in February of 1989, Ted rejoined the band.  Since he wasn’t fluent with the songs I played all rhythm guitars and all the leads but one which Ted did.  It’s the first lead in the song “The Resurrection”.  We played some shows all while writing new material and broke up in 1990.

PA: The first two demos that Exmortis released were "Descent In Chaos" released in 1987 (it is among my personal favorites of all time) along with your second demo Immortality's End. Both were self released, now Brian can you tell us about the "legendary" Exmortis demos? Was it hard to find a record label back then? 

BW: “Descent into Chaos” was released in 1988 and I thank you for the compliment on our work.  We were unaware of the impact it was having on people at the time.  We were just a couple of kids having a good time.  As far as record labels were concerned, after the “Immortality’s End” demo was released CCG records out of the U.K. released it on a limited edition vinyl.  We were supposed to get 200 copies of it ourselves but it never happened as they ripped us off…  No other record label wanted us for some reason.  I tried to get us signed to all of them at the time but kept getting ignored or getting rejection letters.  Anyway, near the end Road Runner records started getting interested in us so I did pretty much what you would call a phone interview with them almost every night for a couple of weeks.  It turned out the Immolation were going through the same ropes as us with Road Runner.  As it happened, Immolation got the slot and Exmortis lost again with no deal.

 PA: How was the Maryland Death Metal scene back then when you guys started off?

BW: There wasn’t a scene at all.  We were the only true Death Metal act in the state at the time.  We played shows with band from  a plethora of other states in and around the Virginia to upper New York areas.  There were some bands that wanted to call themselves heavy but they were only thrash bands which didn’t compare with the raw intensity the Death Metal brought.

PA: What were the bands that influenced Exmortis to start playing their sonic brand of death metal?

BW: The lyrics were heavily influences by horror and gore.  The music was influenced by many of the major bands from back in those days.  Let’s see, There was Possessed, Death, Slayer, Celtic Frost, Destruction, Sodom.  We were lined up pretty much between the 1st and 2nd waves of Death Metal to hit the stage. So none of the bands like Entombed, Grave, Morbid Angel, Goreaphobia, Autopsy, Paradise Lost (the list goes on) really influenced us.

PA: Now this is one question I really wanted to ask you. Exmortis has shared the stage with many legendary bands like Dr. Shrinker, Deceased and Goreaphobia to name a few, how was it like playing with these bands back in the glorious days of death metal ? Death Metal as a genre has evolved a lot mostly in a negative way as we can see more and more bands trying to wank their instruments rather than concentrate on songwriting which involves a lot of passion and feel. What are your perceptions about the modern day death metal scene is there anyway that you can relate to it? 

BW: Well, Nostalgic is what you think of it as but it was just a time in life for us.  I guess you could call it nostalgic.. Anyway, The scene has changed and a lot of bands that sound nothing like Death Metal are claiming the genre.  I don’t get it.  Are they that blind to see the difference between their ancestry roots and the music they play today?  I think they are but really can’t judge them like I have in other interviews. Hahahaha. Call me Judge Werking. I do think it’s a disgrace to the genre.  Morbid Angel must be feeling pretty good these days because almost every band out there has major influences from them.  To put it bluntly, I don’t give a rat’s ass what these kids of today do, I know where my roots is and they’ll learn to understand what true Death Metal is in the coming years because I’m going teach them. After all someone has to stand up and take the flag or keep the fire burning for us all.


PA: Now coming back to Exmortis again, why did the band decide to call it a day in the mid 90's considering the cult status you guys managed to achieve in such a short period of time?

BW: Well, at the time I don’t think any one of us knew the status we were given.  I just noticed it about 6 to 7 years ago.  It’s funny how you loose touch with your old friends then get reunited to find out that they’ve continued to do the same things throughout the years.  I took a different route for many years and followed the corporate American ride.  It was good while it lasted but when I was down and almost on my death bed the firm that I held so deeply to my heart let me down and fired me.  I blame one person for this but I will not name him.  Plus, he’ll never read this anyway.  The fucker can rot in hell for all I care.  Woe, way off the topic.  Sorry.  Anyway, it wasn’t much of a hard decision to make.  We were thrown out of our practice facility just a month before we were supposed to play the very 1st Michigan Death Fest.  It was a sad thing but we pretty much broke up at this time.  Death Metal wasn’t a genre that most people wanted playing in their basement, no matter how much we paid them.  Everyone went their separate ways at this time.  Lee ended up gaining the most fame out of us all with him many appearances on CD’s in the past 20+ years.  I admire him for that.  He got struck with it through thick and thin.

PA: After the hiatus in 1990, Exmortis released an 7" EP entitled as "Fade From Reality"  but shortly after it's release there was a big lull again. What were the difficulties which Exmortis faced back then?

BW: The 7” EP “Fade From Reality” was released by the cult Rage Records out of New York by Ed Farshtey Jr, and Joe Pupo in Late 1991.  At the time I was married to Sharon from Derketa and times were tough for both of us.  Even though it was a great time to be involved in the scene I recorded it all myself so there was no band backing me up on this.  Therefore not much happened after its release.  Not to say that my life took another change about that time.  My father died and it sent me on a downward spiral which took me some time to recover from.  By that time I was ready to go to college because I was tired of working for minimum wage in a couple of jobs just to scrape up enough money for Mac n’ Cheese every night with the occasional steak when I was lucky.

PA: Exmortis also appeared with an alias called Bloodless, for some legal reason in one compilation, how the problem got dealt with?

BW: At the time Chris (ex-bassist) re-grouped the band with all new people and bought the trademark to the name Exmortis so out of respect for him I decided to use the name Bloodless instead.  Even though we all knew it sounded exactly like Exmortis and his version sounded nothing like it.  Anyway we dealt with it smoothly.  There were no fights over who had what.  I didn’t care the he was using the name Exmortis because at least it was being used by someone I knew and was friends with.

PA: Brian, beside Exmortis, you did not play in other bands or any studio project or live shows for other bands. Exmortis meant a lot to you. We are glad you finally are back with much awaited resurrection of ancient death!

BW: Well thank you very much for that.  It really means a lot to me to hear people like yourself say such kind words…  Actually you couldn’t be more wrong; I did a couple of other things which weren’t Death Metal.I worked on a project with a colleague called “Static Images”.  This music was more in the vein of early industrial/experimental music.  We did quite a few songs together but never really had an official release.  That stands to question though.  I would like to release the material under my own label per say.  I release my own material under the label Shockwerks Media…  There has also been many songs throughout the years which I’ve created under the name “Shockwerks”.  Unfortunately these songs were never released either.  There is probably 90+ minutes of music that needs to be released.  I don’t care if no one buys it but I just want to release it because it’s something I’m proud of.  Shockwerks isn’t dead either.  I plan on writing new material this year and hopefully having it professionally released.  We’ll see how that goes.  But you know, Death Metal will always be my love of music.

PA: Exmortis finally got a record deal with none other than the cult Spanish record label "Etreem Music " congratulations for that Brian, How did it work out for you guys?

BW: Let me tell you, Dave Rotten is one of the best people to work with.  He’s true underground and not in it for the money even though I think he’s hiding a few Euros for a rainy day.  He’s a great guy and wanted to release the Exmortis discography but it was released instead by Necroharmonic records…  From what I understand from Dave it’s going much better than he ever thought it would.  Sales and distributor action is hitting record numbers so I’m hopeful it goes into a 2nd pressing.

PA: "Resurrection.. The Book Of Dead" is hands down one of the best extreme metal release in  2011, along with Autopsy's "Macabre Eternal". It was recorded in Tampa which was once considered the mecca of death metal with so many great bands like (Obituary, Massacre, Death, Morbid Angel and Deicide to name a few who have released legendary albums which were instrumental in the establishment of Floridian death metal). Coming back to the question Brian can you tell us about the writing process for the EP? How did it begin and what were the ideas involved?

BW: I live in Tampa, Florida now and not Maryland…  As far as it being one of the best extreme metal releases in 2011, I don’t know but I haven’t heard everything out there so I really couldn’t say…  It’s funny because I write what I would like to hear and that’s it.  Most people probably don’t know that but I write to satisfy myself and no other.  It just so happens that other people like it as well.  I’m happy as hell with that because I get to converse with people like you.  It makes my day when I get an email asking for an interview or for a link to a review of some of my latest work.  It’s mind boggling to me how it’s become such a hit.  Like I said, I write for myself so does that mean I have good taste in music?  Hahahaha….  Well, I started planning it back in early 2011.  It was a thought at the time but when I picked up the guitar Exmortis just started screaming out of it.  So, in the coming months I recorded the CD and had it mixed and mastered by Javier Fernandez Milla out of Spain.  This is one of Dave Rottens friends and mine now.  We exchange emails frequently.

PA: The Slaughter Begins is  probably one of the most catchiest yet brutally fast and really haunting songs featured in the new EP . Ferociously fast and brutal riffs accompanied with the frenzied pounding of the drums like there is no tomorrow , it creates such an atmosphere where the listeners are taken back to the glory days of late 80's and early 90's. 

BW: Exactly what it was intended to do.  I never progressed past then musically in the Death Metal genre because I thought it was the time of it’s prime and I wanted to keep the same style we were known for.  It helped a lot that I wrote all the music for Exmortis back then because I still have that very same style that shows in this EP…  Plus I want to set an example to all these new kids out there that think they are really playing Death Metal.  Join the flock of the ancients and you’ll understand but will you be allowed in?  That’s the question…  Will ancient Death Metal take over once again and flood the scene with billowing Death that it was always meant to be.  I would laugh my ass off because it would drive the labels mad.  They wouldn’t have the slightest clue what to do with it these days.

PA: Is Aanter Lee Coates Back on Drums?

BW: Lee will not be playing drums until the next CD.“Resurrection…Book of the Dead” was another solo project of mine. I’m the only person who played on that EP.  I learned to play the drums somewhat and triggered everything.  It’s unbelievable what you can do with today’s technologically advanced analog drum samples.  I’ll bet you didn’t even know it was samples being played.  I’ll let you in on a little secret.  Most of the music you hear today, the drums are all triggered to get that sonic impact every time you hit the skins.  Studios like that more than anything.  Especially if the drummer fucks up on a note.  They can then fix it really easily without the drummer doing anything.  Digital technology…  It’s the best thing to happen since TV was developed…  Anyway, I don’t call him Aantar.  His name is Lee and always will be.  Aantar is his middle name.  I think it comes from his Jamaican Ganja root’s….  Hahahahaha…  Lee is a really good guy.  His life has been full of trouble because of, well, I don’t really know why but, he’s a good drummer and started his career with Exmortis and so we meet again…  He lives 5 minutes down the road from me.  We are going to get together really soon to start working on a bunch of songs I wrote in the past couple of months.

PA: So what is next for Exmortis? Can we expect a new full length from Exmortis in the not too distant future?

BW: Part of the deal with Xtreem Music is that a full length CD from Exmortis be released in 2012.  I want it out by the end of summer to early fall.  So expect at least 35 minutes of brand new music on one CD in the near future.

PA: Do Exmortis have any plan for gigs in near future?

BW: We do not have any plans at all.  There is going to be a stict recording period for Exmortis each year so expect to have music thrown at your face constantly.  Playing live is something I would like to do but my life doesn’t have it in it near future.  I told Lee that if we ever retire from work we can tour constantly.  But the chance of that happening is slim because one of us mostly will die before that happens.

PA: We always have this fixation to ask 5 most favorite albums in extreme music that you call your personal favorites.. can you please take the trouble of naming them?

BW: Hahahahaha, Let’s see..

1:  Carcass – Reek of Putrefaction

2:  Autopsy – Severed Survival

3:  Slayer – Reign in Blood

4:  Possessed – Seven Churches

5:  Destruction – Infernal Overkill

Let’s take it a little further

6:  Kreator – Pleasure to Kill

7: Sodom - Persecution Mania

PA: Brian, we brothers in Putrid Ascendancy, are absolutely honored and really privileged to feel your presence in our lives! You are a great musician and brother we always admire and respect and We sincerely wish Exmortis all the very best in their future endeavors. Hails!

BW: Hails to you my brothers…  Without your lives Exmortis would never have a stand in this fucked up world of chaos.  Thanks you to all the fans out there that completely rule!!!

Vintage Press Gallery 



Death Metal
Frederick, Maryland/Now Tampa, Florida, USA
Current Label- Extreem Music

Members - Brian Werking, Aantar Lee Coates

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Putrid Ascendancy  would like to extend the hands of gratitude to Mr. Brian Werking for this interview!
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