Interview with bassist David Sittig | By Grant Skelton
“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one,” wrote Screwtape to his hapless nephew Wormwood, “the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” Affectionate Uncle Screwtape’s advice, compiled by C.S. Lewis in the form of “The Screwtape Letters,” aids neophyte Wormwood in tempting “the Patient” away from uprightness and toward destruction. The temptation should be subtle, even subdued. More like lulling than haunting—a velvet glove that coddles the soul into soporific submission.
Unfortunately for both Wormwood and his uncle, California “gorship”—a portmanteau of “gore” and “worship”—band Impending Doom have returned from their five-year sabbatical. Their new album The Sin and Doom Vol. II—out June 22 via eOne Music—augurs suffering for those human Patients who succumb to the bedeviling of their infernal tempters. The album brings with it an entire arsenal of milestones and signposts, entrenching them in the earth with such violence that the gates to Hell are rattled from their blackened hinges. Impending Doom are a portent for modern times, their message is simple: to awaken those who wander onto the safe road, oblivious to the horror at its destination.
“Start to finish, we really love this album and worked really hard on it,” bassist David Sittig explains. “[We] spent a good portion of the last two years writing and recording it.” The painstaking effort behind The Sin and Doom Vol. II is immediately evident from the eerie album opener, “The Wretched and Godless.” Fans who expected a return of the pig-squeal vocals employed on Impending Doom’s 2007 debut, Nailed. Dead. Risen., will notice dashes of this vocal technique throughout the new album.
For those who may be unaware, the title The Sin and Doom Vol. II harks all the way back to 2005. That year, Impending Doom released a demo called The Sin and Doom of Godless Men. “Last year was our 10-year anniversary for Nailed. Dead. Risen.,” Sittig elaborates, “and we were kinda getting into reminiscing and the old days. The songs themselves and the riffs themselves kinda reminded us of […] the feeling we got writing those early albums.”
If one were to select a single word to define both the sound and ethic of Impending Doom, one would choose the word conviction. Each release finds them further whetting the indomitable spirit of their songcraft, never deviating from their primary elements. Regardless of the five-year gap between releases, The Sin and Doom Vol. II shows nary a sign of tarnish or rust. It’s like Impending Doom never really left. “It was just like a train going off the track for the first eight years or so,” Sittig reminisces. “We were just holding on for dear life, going 120 miles an hour!”
Sittig’s bulldozing bass tone, a stalwart in all of the band’s previous releases, remains propulsive and demolishing. “I started using a pick,” he says, “because it’s more of an aggressive sound. It has more attack to it. That pick attack, you can’t really get anywhere else.”
“I’m obsessed with bass tones,” he adds. “I’m all about the feel and how it sounds.”
The audible, evident conviction in both Impending Doom’s sound and songcraft can be attributed to the band’s collaborative songwriting. “Our first record, Nailed. Dead. Risen., was basically written by two people,” Sittig remembers. “Once we did [2009’s The] Serpent Servant, I started writing for the band more.”
“When we work on songs, I would say, like, 90 percent of the time, it’s like one person does an entire song,” he explains. From the 2012 album Baptized in Filth, Sittig cites the songs “Murderer” and “Deceiver” as his personal favorites. “Both those songs I had a heavy influence on writing, so they have a special place in my heart,” he expounds. “The crowds and fans always go off for those ones.”
The Sin and Doom Vol. II is the latest woeful oracle in Impending Doom’s musical canon. Sittig comments thusly on his choice cuts from the new release: “My favorite tracks are ‘The Wretched and Godless,’ [and] I love ‘War Music.’ We all like ‘Everything’s Fake,’ because the entire time, it’s like the droniest: slow and heavy.”
The album has all of the conviction, vigor, and venom of the band’s previous releases. From their hiatus, they have emerged with amplified fervor and refined devotion. Everything may indeed be “fake in this day and age,” but Impending Doom are most assuredly not.
Heed the warning, friends. The road is not safe. Heed the warning and choose a different path.