Blood From the Soul emerged from a psychic-embryonic sack that grew like a ropebridge made of sinews, connecting the gray matter shelves of Napalm Death’s bassist Shane Embry and Sick of it All’s vocalist Lou Koller. The link was first forced between them while their bands toured together back in the nascent days of the early ’90s alternative rock boom. The lead-lined cast net of imagination the formed between them collected all manner of malignant sonic forms, and eventually, a Godflesh shaped homunculus ripped itself free from this placental cacoon in the form of To Spite The Gland That Breeds, a dark industrial and groove metal album that gave no quarter to human weakness. Driven by blasts of rotating drum machine baked rhythms and a lust for skull compressing aggression that could lift a man up and ring him out like a blood-soaked towel just as easily as you pick up and unfold a newspaper (a dated analogy, but come on, it works!), it was like nothing else in its time and it still legendary as a sinister sonic excrescence.
But then the monster disappeared. Blood From the Soul slunk back into the fathomless subconscious of its creators. Shane and Co. moved on to other projects and Blood From the Soul was left behind, a craterous footnote in the annals of extreme music history. That was until Jacob Bannon of Coverage announced that he joined the project in an interview with Forbes (yeah, I did a double-take there too, go ice your neck, this article will be here when you get back) and that he had been working with Shane and Megadeath and Soilwork drummer Dirk Verbeuren on a new album. That new album is DSM-5 and it drops today via Deathwish Inc.
DSM-5 is a short story of sorts told through sound, fury, and Jacob’s grotesquely filtered death vocals. It is a story about the dividing line between humans and machines and the permeability of the conscious mind. It’s a parable on par with Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? exploring the mysteries of consciousness and the frailties of the soup of neurons and sparking, slowly deadening nerves we use to hopelessly navigate the world. It is an album that will inspire as much empathy for humankind as it does horror in the revelation our species inevitable, lurching thrust toward annihilation.
To learn more about the resurrection of this behemoth project and to celebrate the release of its new album, I caught up with Shane and Jacob via email to discuss DSM-5 and how it came to be.
The following conversations were conducted via email in November of 2020. They are reproduced below with minor edits and revisions for the sake of clarity.
Interview with Shane Embury
What was the impetus for reviving this project after such a long hiatus?
Dirk [Verbeuren] was the guy really who time and time again would talk about how much he loved the first album and that planted the seed in my head really. Working with Dirk on my Tronos album I became quickly aware of how amazing a drummer he was and so ideas clicked and so it began.
What do you feel the legacy of BFTS was following your first release?
I don’t know about legacy but I was aware of the first albums cult status which was great of course as the years sped by comments would crop up here and there, but sometimes the stars have to align.
Do you still see the impact of your first album in contemporary extreme and industrial music?
Again, that’s a tough question I make music firstly for myself – I think it was a learning curve for me. Part of my musical development. It sneaked under the radar of a lot of people so again it’s cool when people point the album out.
What is the hardest part of reviving a project that has been dormant?
Well, technology has moved on so recording ideas was simple as was sending them to Dirk – I was a tape trader in my teens – joined Napalm and made a million friends around the world, many of them great musicians – I like to make music so the initial reawakening Of the band was not so bad I just knew I wanted more input this time.
Have your musical reference points for the project changed since the last time you worked on it?
Not really, the same, except Jacob added so much more which was awesome.
How did you go about assembling the line up for this new version of BFTS?
Well Dirk is covered and as I said I have made a million friends! I met Jacob in Japan when my other band Lock Up played with Converge in 2002! Over the years we would bump into each other and he again asked about the first Blood From the Soul album so I made a mental note and when Lou [Koller] couldn’t commit I went straight to Jacob! Then there was Jesper [Liveröd] from Nasum and Burst, another old-time friend, and we had been talking about doing something so this was the opportunity. Now I just hope for more albums.
Do you think you’d like to tour for this record when you get the chance?
I most certainly would like to play some shows– fingers crossed!
Interview with Jacob Bannon
What can you tell us about the narrative that cuts through your newest album DSM-5?
The title is a reference to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In the lyrical content, “DSM-5” is the name of the vessel in which humans take refuge and escape from Earth. Intentionally I don’t explain if the events are reality or all in the head of the various narrators.
What were some of your literary influences for this narrative?
None really. I simply attempted to write what I would like to see in Science Fiction subject matter.
How did the rest of the band contribute to the crafting of this story?
Shane and company contributed by sonically inspiring me through the songs they were assembling. As for the specifcs, the members let me run with the lyrics/vocals which I appreciate. Once I explained to Shane what I wanted to do in a general manner, he gave me the green light. As things progressed I sent over the lyrical ideas to him here and there. Once the vocal recordings were complete I focused on creating the visuals. Trying to capture visually what we sonically created together.
What is the connection between technology and mental health issues?
This is too large of a question to answer fully. I do feel that we do not psychologically evolve at the same pace as technology innovates. This creates schisms and conflict before finding a place of coexistence.
How could our relationship with technology change to avoid some of the negative consequences that flow from its use?
Change comes in various forms of self-awareness. We all have our own unique limits and pitfalls when it comes to how we use these tools. As for what could be a positive change for people, I feel that would vary from person to person.
The video for “Calcified Youth” has some pretty wild visuals. How were they put together and what is the story behind them?
I’ve collaborated with Jakub [Moth] at Chariot of The Black Moth a number of times and felt confident that he could capture the vision. I sent him an outline of the album, as well as the lyrics, and basic visual ideas. He nailed it with absolutely incredible work.
Do you think you’d like to tour for this record when you get the chance?
We will see what the future holds. I would enjoy that for sure. Thanks for your time.