By Denise FalzonDecrepit Birth's debut album, ...And Time Begins, set the bar for technical death metal; it's fast, brutal and there are a million things going on at once. Then with their second album, Diminishing Between Worlds, something in their sound changed. The masters of tech-death evolved into a more progressive realm, complete with guitar solos and harmonious melodies. Now, the Santa Cruz, CA band have unleashed their third album, and Nuclear Blast debut, Polarity, and while it follows the same progressive path as Diminishing Between Worlds, remnants of the old Decrepit Birth still pop up from time to time. Polarity is filled with guitarist Matt Sotelo's luminous soloing, juxtaposed with explosive barrages of catchy riffs, as well as more technical interludes. But it's vocalist Bill Robinson who keeps the atmosphere crushing, with his signature deep gutturals, which ooze thought-provoking lyrical content and philosophical themes. As the only two original members left, Sotelo and Robinson have solidified Decrepit Birth's sound with Polarity ― this is death metal with soul and every second of the album confirms that. While ...And Time Begins remains the album that all others within the tech-death sub-genre are judged against, Polarity displays Decrepit Birth's growth and unlimited potential. It's a huge change that fans of the band will either recoil from or embrace. Hopefully, it's a change that will finally earn Decrepit Birth the recognition they have so long deserved.
Can you tell me a little bit about the musical direction for Polarity? Sotelo: It's kind of what the last album was like: progressive death metal mixed with some brutal stuff and also some melodic stuff. But we're really not trying to pinpoint one sub-genre in death metal. We really like so many types of music that we want to fuse all different types of stuff, so it's hard to confine it to one type of thing. We're headed in a progressive death metal type of thing where we meld different fusions and styles in, if that makes sense at all.
Are there any concepts or themes behind this new album? Well, all of out stuff sort of has a theme that we stick to from album to album. Our singer, Bill [Robinson], wrote most of the lyrics for this one and a lot of it is from some personal experiences that he wanted to put in there. It's really abstract ― the average fan is not going to read the lyrics and really know what's going on. But it's kind of cool for people to make up their own concept too. By reading into it they can come up with their own meaning. But it's a lot of sci-fi kind of stuff mixed in with a lot of apocalyptic things. We're not saying this is the way it is, it's just our take on what we think maybe the future holds or looking into the past to kind of get answers for the future, just that kind of weird stuff.
Polarity follows a similar path as Diminishing Between Worlds, but how does it differ? Diminishing Between Worlds was really focused on a lot of guitar soloing, a lot of really tech-y stuff and a lot of layers. Don't get me wrong, the new album is too, but what I really wanted to focus on with the new one is songwriting and having people really get into the songs and maybe memorize some of the riffs. There's actually a lot of stuff that's a little bit simpler, like some of the riffing is, at times, some classic thrash metal stuff thrown in there, just stuff that when people come see us live, they get something that they can hold onto and riffs they can actually hear. These days, you hear a lot of the bands play with so much technicality it gets lost live, so I just wanted to have a good balance of a little bit of everything, but make the songwriting more cohesive. It's hard to say what the difference is completely, but it's just an evolution and progression.
How was it switching from previous label Unique Leader to Nuclear Blast? Pretty good. Unique Leader is a good label for a band that's starting out. But, with all due respect, they just don't really have the kind of distribution and contacts that a label like Nuclear Blast has. [Nuclear Blast is] more of a real deal record label and they've been able to introduce me to certain people that have really been helping us, where before we were doing all that stuff on our own. It seems like, especially with the release of the new album, we've been doing a lot of interviews and they're keeping us busy. They're also helping us get better tours and, of course, the recording budget was much better than anything we were used to. We got to go into a better recording studio and we got to do things that we weren't able to do before and try different things because we had the resources, so that was a huge thing when it came to the recording process. (Nuclear Blast)