Interview: Guitarist/Vocalist Roman Non of Graveslave Discusses Band’s Formation and New Album ‘No Center’

Minneapolis’ Graveslave formed back in 2014, when guitar player/vocalist Roman Non, bassist Josh Burke, and drummer Ben Plaguerness had plans to create a sound that channeled more of their death metal inspirations. Intentions to create music that was faster and heavier than what they were used to writing at the time have led the three down a seven-year music journey that continues to develop with each passing release.

Although Graveslave are rooted in a more brutal-leaning, death metal style, they’ve learned to incorporate new ideas to generate harder hitting breakdowns and blackened music layers. Their upcoming, full-length album No Center, set to release July 23, sees the band adding more dynamic angles to their death metal foundation. However, Non explains that it has been a long road to get to this point.

“Before Ben (Plaguerness) and I started Graveslave, we were both involved in like a Deftones/Slipknot style alternative metal band, and then we both also played in a melodic metalcore band for a brief time.” Non really felt an urge to veer more in the death metal direction, so he mentioned it to drummer Plaguerness. “Ben was onboard immediately, so we started looking for members that shared a vision for blast beats and gutturals.”

Once Graveslave started participating with other really brutal, extreme metal acts, the band started learning the ropes and understanding how to get their name out there more. They released their first EP, Corpseborne, followed up by their debut full-length, Sick/Nasty. Their debut was a burst of high-energy, full of blasting, and twisted gutturals provided by vocalist Doombringer.

A little over a year after the release of their debut full-length, tragedy struck the band with the sudden passing of vocalist Don “Doombringer” Durkee. “That was a hugely difficult time for the band and for all of us just as friends,” explains Non. “We were kinda at our highest point as a band for a moment, and got to do a huge tour in Europe with Origin, Rings of Saturn, and Hideous Divinity, and were beyond stoked to be making waves.”

“Behind the scenes, I guess a lot of us were struggling with heavy depression and addiction issues, Don most of all,” Non says. “We got back from tour and were actually well into the writing and demoing process for our last release (Devotion EP) before we had to part ways with Doombringer as a vocalist.”

“That put a huge hold on shit, as we looked around for another singer and then got back into the writing with a different lineup.” Non continues, “We definitely remained close friends after splitting from the band, and when he passed, it was a huge blow for all of us.” Graveslave continued to write and record, releasing their EP Devotion in 2020 featuring new vocalist Ashton George.

“When Ashton first joined, we had already written a ton of music for Devotion, so it was kinda like we were all just feeling each other out and testing the chemistry as a new line up,” Non explains. “He wrote new lyrics for music we already had, we tracked it, and just played as many shows as we could before quarantine.”

“With the new record (No Center), Ashton and I definitely got to work together more in-depth with the writing process, and I definitely think it shows,” Non explains. “Ashton has brought so many new layers to the band’s sound. In particular, he’s been way dope as a lyricist and finding new avenues to express brutal themes without always leaning on blood and guts imagery, which has been our bread and butter in the past.”

Rounding out Graveslave’s lineup for their upcoming album No Center, comes guitarist Fernando Landaverde, who brought some new ideas of his own to the band. The band decided to produce the whole record in-house and was able to take their time developing new ideas. “We’ve ended up with a huge amount of new sounds,” Non says. “We’ve sparingly explored more melodic writing in the past, as well as more proggy writing that we dabbled with on Sick/Nasty in particular, and for this record, we dove headfirst into both of those.”

The band’s latest single “Spectral Procession,” is full of blackened elements and sees the group incorporating musical characteristics that are somewhat newer for them.

“We released that one as a single because it really showcases all the new styles we’ve incorporated in this new record but like in one song,” Non explains. “I would definitely say ‘Spectral Procession’ in particular is full on blackened death metal. Drummer Ben is a die-hard black metal fan, and the last couple of releases we’ve been trying out some blackened vibes with our death metal sound, and that’s another aspect we really turned up a notch on this new record in general.”

No Center will be independently released by Graveslave on July 23, and they’ve made it their goal to take risks within their writing. “Job For a Cowboy has done the straightforward brutal as fuck Genesis album, and has matured into the proggier sounding Sun Eater, and that’s a huge flex,” Non states. “Both those records sound way different and are definitely both death metal, and that’s I think how we want to continue to evolve. Growth is important, and we will always try new things, and have different sounding records, but we will also never stop doing crushing blast beats and gutturals.”

No Center track list:

1. The Depths
2. Divide/Divide
3. Bird in Hand
4. Spectral Procession
5. Of Indifference
6. No Center
7. Death, Become
8. In the Mouths of Giants

Preorder No Center here.

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