Interview with guitarist Will Peplinski | By Brandon Ringo
Though Swine Overlord has been kicking around in the death metal underground for the last couple of years, 2014 is the year the band begins its rise. Their unrelenting style of progressive, slamming death metal is impossibly brutal has earned them a cult following that’s sure to grow massively following the release of their debut Parables Of Umbral Transcendence through Gore House Productions.
I was reading about you guys and noticed that until January of this year, you were just a two-piece. How did the idea of doing the band as a two-piece come about and how difficult is it coming up with such technically complicated music with only two members?
Well initially this band was going to be just a joke one-man project where I did everything. I did one demo track, and I eventually met Devin over Facebook through his deathcore project, Eternal Carnage, and I asked him to do drum programming and vocals, since those were my weak points. And in terms of the difficulty of the writing, I feel like it’s actually easier with less members. With me doing all guitars and bass, it makes it easier because I know the riffs I’m writing, where harmonies might be, etc. It’s nice having that control too. Plus, Devin and I usually write via Skype, so we can both put in ideas.
How did the inclusion of Anthony on vocals come about? Also, had you already started the writing process for the full length by then, or were you waiting for a new vocalist before doing so?
When it came time to record vocals for this album, Parables of Umbral Transcendence, Devin didn’t have the gear, money or time to properly do so, so we had to look for someone new to add. Anthony was one of the first people who came to mind. We hit him up and he promptly agreed to join. By this time music for the album had been completely finished, so that was a lot for him to take on such short notice. He definitely fit the band better than we could have hoped and helped us take the sound up a level.
As far as your lyrics go, with song titles like “Celestial Purge” and “Transformation and Rebirth” it appears that there is more to this record than just typical gore. What inspired the lyrics for Parables Of Umbral Transcendence and is there any sort of theme or concept or tie into the album title at all?
In terms of a concept across the whole album, there isn’t really one. We tried to go for what our first EP, Anthology of Abominations was, essentially a collection of stories. So most of the songs are just messed up, scary stories. For those two specific tracks, “Celestial Purge” is about essentially an alien invasion and genocide on the human race, while “Transformation and Rebirth” is about a man realizing he is somewhere between man and God, believing that he is above other men because he acts upon his primal instincts. There are some slightly more typical death metal songs on here like “Chunks” and “Post-Burial Defloration”, but there’s usually a twist or an underlying element to keep things interesting. Post-Burial, for example, at its core is really a love song. It is solely the fact that the love of the protagonist just happens to be deceased. The song “Bleeding the Sinful” was the only song with a lot of outside influence, and that was inspired by the game Silent Hill: Homecoming’s character Dr. Fitch, who had to sacrifice his daughter, and spent the rest of his life living in anguish and regret.
How did the decision to title the album Parables Of Umbral Transcendence come about and what is its meaning and significance to you?
The album title was chosen for multiple reasons. One was, I will admit, just that it sounded cool. But also it had some depth to it. It came from my interest in the shadow as described in Jungian psychology. The shadow is the unconscious self, the negative parts of yourself that you don’t like and repress from your self-identity. The idea is to face and conquer “the shadow” in order to incorporate your entire self into the conscious realm, thus fining the deeper meaning in life, happiness, or whatever you may be looking for. So transcending the shadow, essentially. And we chose Parables because it kind of gives it the feeling of a collection of stories, like the EP.
Musically, the album seems to be substantially more progressive-minded than a lot of typical death metal. Is that something that you guys set out to do or did it happen organically during the writing process?
We’ve always wanted to set ourselves apart from the typical slam sound, not for attention, but simply because writing generic slam is boring to us. So I guess you could say that it naturally happened, but it was also conscious. We wanted to grow and evolve from the EP. This is a goal that continues even now with our future material.
Admittedly, I’m still not sure of the difference between slamming death metal and regular death metal. Is there a difference between the two, really? Also, do you aim to have your sound lean specifically towards one side of the genre or the other, or is that not something that you guys worry about when writing?
I mean, to me, there is a difference, sort of. I joke that there’s a specific slam-to-riff ratio that must be met before you are a slam band, and vice versa. We kind of stay conscious of it in the sense that we don’t want to do too many slams because it will sound boring. We don’t really care what people label us. Slams are of course a staple of our sound and always will be, but between those two we are trying to lean more on the death metal side, especially as we continue to grow and refine our sound. But with an even stronger progressive edge.