Of Feather And Bone Channel Aztec Rage on 'Bestial Hymns of Perversion'

Of Feather And Bone Channel Aztec Rage on 'Bestial Hymns of Perversion'
Photo: Pale With Decay
On their latest full-length, Bestial Hymns of Perversion, Of Feather and Bone present a fittingly savage slice of raging death that manages to stand apart from the masses, both in its quality as well as inspiration. The term "death metal" immediately evokes images of gore and depravity, serial killers and sexual violence; OFAB break away from these tropes via the folklore of ancient Aztec and Mexican culture.
 
Bassist and vocalist, Alvino Salcedo spoke with Exclaim! about what led him to bring this largely untapped corner of history to the forefront in such a furious manner.
 
"We never wanted to bring politics into the band. We're not religious by any means… everyone's an atheist in the band, and it seemed so corny to be, 'Satan this! Satan that!' We don't really give a fuck about that. So I figured, 'Why don't I take something that I do know about, which is my heritage?" My dad is from  Mexico, and my mom is from here in Colorado, and they both raised me with this kind of appreciation of our culture and learning to embrace it. And through time, reading about all that kind of stuff, whether it be indigenous movements or just the overall mysticism, stories, and folklore."
 
Using his cultural background as a kind of vehicle for the lyrics, Salcedo found it also allowed him to branch out into other aspects of humanity, enabling him to express his own "staunch stance of anti-Christianity" in a more genuine, personal view than that of an outsider simply tapping into the Norwegian and Pagan perspectives.
 
"A lot of our wrongs in this world are based off of religion, especially Christianity," Salcedo continues. "That was where I was like, 'I can't let it go unnoticed, I can't just sit there be the atheist, saying, "Oh, this doesn't matter because it doesn't exist."' But it does exist, it's around us everywhere.
 
 "I can make a direct correlation and say that my Aztec culture was wiped out by Christians. They traded knowledge, wealth, land for a bible and disease. The complete destruction of who they were."
 
Salcedo agrees that this cultural perspective helped feed into the savagery that permeates Bestial Hymns, and that much of that anger "came from learning about all of the temples or pyramids that were built by these people. These were great feats that were done before modern technology. And to know that, within Mexico city… Catholic cathedrals are built upon the remnants of what was left."
 
The folklore of the Aztec peoples is deeply rooted in the macabre. The obvious element of human sacrifice aside, Alcedo noted that for the lyrics he was inspired by the ideas of "death rituals" and their underworld, but also led into more personal territory that imbued the album with further meaning for him.
 
"We are a death metal band, but it's not like we worship death. And I do meet a lot of people who are like, 'death this, death that,' but when death takes someone close to them, they crumble, [and] don't know how to handle it. They don't understand that this is just a part of the natural cycle, and I think that's what attracts me to a lot of the Indigenous cultures, is that they embrace it. I lost my mother about ten years ago, and when [that happens] you don't really know how to cope, you just [think] this is the end of my world, too. But as time goes on [you accept] that we're all going to do this. So it all fit together, taking the personal aspect of it, but also using the culture, [as well as] taking a stab at Christianity. It all kind of intertwined with one another."
 
Salcedo's words help shed light on the inner workings of Bestial Hymns and what has resulted in one of 2018's best releases thus far. Since their inception in 2012, OFAB have been one of the metal underground's best-kept secrets. However, with the band's signing to Profound Lore Records and the release of the new album, there has been a considerable surge in notoriety.
 
"I'd say 90 percent of that we don't notice. [But] with anything, the important thing is just try to stay humble with it. I do see bands that start to lose themselves [and] who they are. We've toured relentlessly for the past six years [and] played the worst of the worst shows… [but] that's part of the growing process [and] we've had to scrounge from the bottom up. If you put all your work and time into something and it pays off, why not be proud of it?"
 
Bestial Hymns of Perversion is out now on Profound Lore.