Interview: Truth Corroded Ponder The Decline Of Humanity

Interview with Greg Shaw | by Eric May

Truth Corroded are an Australian modern metal band that’s never been interesting in creating something completely different, yet relishes in play the kind of music that they love. First inspired by acts like Testament, Entombed, Sepultura and Slayer; the band later increased their palate of influences to contain acts like Neurosis, Gojira and Behemoth among others. The end result is a hodgepodge of abrasion that is not only thundering, but informative. The band revels in politics, as they informed me on several things in this interview that I wasn’t even aware of!

Let’s start at the very beginning with the opener to The Saviours Slain, “Precipice.” Obviously, there’s a very political message here that speaks at great lengths about the injustices within our current social construct. Who was the speaker behind this quote and what are your thoughts regarding it?

The speech is by former U.S Senator and political commentator Ron Paul. I would not go as far as saying I completely agree with all his commentary, but he offers some great thought provoking views. Jason (vocals) found the speech and I suggested it would work well with the audio from the Wikileaks exposure of the gunship attack in Iraq underlying the speech. I think it captures a message that we want to convey. It concerns truth and gets at the source of the band’s title and the aim that both I and our former guitarist Mark have sought to achieve in our lyrics and message.

Truth Corroded - The Saviours Slain coverSpeaking further about the album, what is the significance behind the title, The Saviours Slain. Who are these saviours that you are referring to? Do you believe that we may have sunken so deep as a civilization, that there is now no one who can save us from oblivion?

It is that dire. The saviour is our humanity. The slayer is the icons of deceit and power that have shaped our decline. The artwork depicts an image that would appear to be anti-Christian, but it is anti-monotheistic and that is only part of the message the title is seeking to convey. It is essentially the artist’s interpretation of the title, it wasn’t a concept the band itself created. But it delivers and it gives vision to the depths of decline we face.

Tell me a bit about the recording process for The Saviours Slain. Where did you write and record it, and how long did that take? What was the atmosphere like during the recording? How do you feel about the final product?

The drums were recorded by Kevin Talley (Suffocation, Misery Index, Chimaera) in San Antonio, Texas. We sent Kevin a template of the songs and let him do his work. We worked with Kev on the previous album, Worship The Bled, so we knew that he would bring his own element to the songs which really worked well for us last time. He is great to work with.

All guitars and vocals were recorded in our home state of South Australia. Once tracked the album was then mixed and mastered in Florida at Audiohammer Studio by Mark Lewis (The Black Dahlia Murder, Whitechapel, Devildriver). We sought Mark out after being struck by his work on albums by the listed bands. He really has become an icon of late and was great to work with.

The writing process started in part during late 2011 and 2012, but it was only riffs, no final songs. Once we finished the touring cycle for our last album supporting Fear Factory and Thy Art Is Murder in Australia in late 2012, we started to put things together. This is our first album without founding member Mark Lennard, who left the band in 2010, so it was challenging. But the new guitarist Wayne stepped up and wrote some great riffs that maintained the Truth Corroded sound. Together we worked on the album and also involved a former band member Corey Grieve, to session on lead guitar. The decision to work with Corey and Kevin was to keep the integrity of the band’s sound as our influences and aims come from a different place than the background of some of the band members and the outcome was an album that is a natural step on from our previous two albums, maintaining the integrity of the band’s sound while also still moving forward.

What I like most about your music, is that you can hear small bits of everything in it. You guys really seem to mold together a sound comprised of many different styles and influences that stands on its own as something completely different. What bands could you say might have helped to inspire this sound?

Thank you. For the original band members, Jason (vocals) Mark (former guitarist) and myself; our aim has always been (since reforming in 2004) to stay true to our roots, which reach back to the late eighties and early nineties thrash and death metal sound, the Bay Area and German thrash era and the early nineties Florida and Scandinavian death metal era. Bands such as Sepultura, Kreator, Dark Angel, Testament, Obituary, Slayer, Forbidden, Vio-Lence, Malevolent Creation and Entombed are all key influences and bands that got us playing as a band.

Later bands such as Neurosis and Cult of Luna became key influences, and as of late bands such as Behemoth, Gojira and Misery Index also play a role. Taken together, we aim to stay true to our roots, but push the boundary and take the sound to new places by bringing in these later influences. We are far from doing something unique, we just play music that grips us.

The inclusion of new band members also has had an influence. Wayne comes from a place that sits somewhere between our background and the influence of bands to emerge in the past decade, bands such as The Black Dahlia Murder or Gojira.

Taken together our sound is inspired and testimonial as we stay true to why we wanted to become a band. We maintain the aim of going for the throat but with a certain balance and dynamic. But in doing so, we also create something of our own.

Without going through every song on the disc, are there any specific songs on the disc that hold powerful lyrical meanings to you? And where do you find your inspiration when writing lyrics?

There are. Particularly “They Are Horror” and “As A River They Bled.”

“They Are Horror” is actually a quote from an Afghan father in regard to the killers of his young son. The killers were drug lords in a part of Afghanistan that forced farmers to grow opium. The U.S and Afghan military destroyed the crops because the Taliban were using the production of opium for buying arms. However no protection was afforded the farmers and it led to abductions of family members by the drug lords and ransom for the destroyed crops. Unable to come up with the ransom in an area of poverty, this farmer’s son was murdered. It’s one of the stories that get overlooked in the bigger story of the war on terror.

“As A River They Bled” is about the massacre of Tamil noncombatants in the 2009 Sri Lankan military offensive against Tamil separatists. Areas designated as safe zones were bombarded, as mass slaughter and rape was committed by the Sri Lankan military. Yet, it is a war crime less known in the bigger picture and it is an indictment on our current government also which returns Tamil refugees to Sri Lanka if arriving as asylum seekers by boat.

Inspiration for lyrics comes from documentaries and free journalism. But that said, it is also an image that you create through lyrics, a depiction of something that I guess you can only see and try to describe. The song “Hallowed Black Sun” is such, which is me trying to depict man as broken following a cataclysm, clawing to survive. Listening to bands like Neurosis helps find the place I need to go to find the creativity.

What was it like working with Craig Locicero of Forbidden and Bret Hoffman of Malevolent Creation? Were you at all intimidated by these guys at first? I mean, that is Forbidden we’re talking about.

It is immense to have both Bret and Craig feature on our album. Each of them are huge influences on the original band members and to have them a part of our recording is something that we could never have thought possible back when we first discovered Forbidden and Malevolent Creation.

The contribution offers what we have always looked up to from each of them: Bret’s phrasing and bellow and Craig’s epic and soaring lead style. These are the signatures of what these icons have brought to the thrash and death sound. We’re really privileged to have worked with them.

Some regard me as a conspiracy theorist, but when you notice the sorts of things going on these days; it’s hard not to question and wonder that something else might be going on behind the scenes. What do you think about the fabled Illuminati and the New World Order?

The power of the military industrial complex, the power of stake holders and the relationship with resource holding – it all appears conspiratorial, but in some part it is real. It is the structure behind global power and hegemony. The complexities behind the structure have led to ideas that are plausible and sometimes fictional, but distraction from the reality of power serves the interests of the powerful.

The relationship between each allows for manipulation and blurring between the lines. Misinformation allows for cover up through distraction. Media monopoly and stake holding allows for the transmission of agenda and misinformation for the masses. Rather than have the freedom to question this, the system behind the structure looks to distort the truth in the interests of holding on to power at its various levels. Those in power, even if seeking change; have a level of complicity, because so much power is entrenched and so much is monopolized that to even effect change it still requires complicity. Real change needs to be radical and those voices will be pushed down or silenced until the structure collapses. As it is now, fear is everywhere and keeps the truth silenced.

I’ve got another intriguing question for you. These days, people seem to flock to the media like flies to honey. With social networking, we’re all connected; most of us living on our computers, cellphones and tablets. In a way, it’s almost like a sort of puppet show; like the media just happens to be getting the attention of people in order to divert their gaze from something harmful. What do you think of this massive media overload?

I think the previous question answers this to some extent. That’s part of the distraction, the disconnect. But ironically in some part, this has also led to opening some channels for change – as it has offered the ability to transmit truth outside the filters of agenda setting. The uprising in Syria, Libya and Egypt are some examples; as is also the uprising in Iran a few years ago.

But that aside, ultimately it’s a question of to what extent is it for better or worse?

What Edward Snowden exposed through the powers of the NSA and the level to which we are observed, an outcome of the unstoppable development in mass communication, exposes the question of our freedom in an age where we heavily rely on an ever expanding range of communication mediums.

As an example of how we are increasingly observed, the band were detained briefly in London and questioned by Police as what they termed “terrorist suspects” as we fit the profile for an anarchist group involved in the Occupy Movement in 2012. We were observed and profiled through CCTV detection.

Some see religion as a way out, as a way to escape the end of the world, as they call it. But in reality, religions seem to pit themselves against each other as they compare whose God is better than another. What do you feel about religion? Do you think it’s necessary for the human race to survive, or do you think that unless we move away from it; the human race will never survive?

Monotheistic religious beliefs are behind the polarization of civilizations – they have in large part shaped the conflicts our countries are involved in today, and the voices behind the polarization that are served by it will continue to bark for more blood to be shed in the name of god and country.

The belief that god saves, whatever god that may be, is a belief that seeks to control the individual, the state, or a collective form. It gives a pulse to fundamentalism, renders the irrational to act as if rational and serves as a justification when action should be condemned.

Embracing our common experience that we each hold the real purpose in life; a sound, safe and empathetic life, that will save us. Not the belief in a blood soaked fiction that demands martyrdom and pardons complicity in horror.

To survive we collectively need to depart from the hold of religion, or face the cataclysm it promises. I can see it happening through further questioning it’s hold, which you can see occurring and that I hope continues to take form.

You toured with death metal legends Fear Factory during their The Industrialist tour right before recording the record. What was that tour like, and what are some interesting experiences that you can share having spent a great deal of time with these guys?

Our singer Jason and his partner have known Dino and Burton for some time, so getting the chance to tour alongside them was awesome and one band to tick off the Truth Corroded bucket list. It was a great tour and we had the chance to play to some of the biggest crowds in some of the biggest venues in Australia that we have ever experienced. Matt DeVries was a great dude, really down to earth and a great addition to Fear Factory. Dino and Burt have always been great, we met them way back when they toured Australia for Fear Is The Mindkiller in the early nineties.

As an interesting fact, when we started out originally as a four piece; we played our third ever show with Dino, Burt and former bass player Christian in the audience. They were in Australia for the Big Day Out Festival and came along to a show we arranged for them as a VIP event. So touring alongside them years later was a privilege.

What do you guys do when you’re not playing music and is there anything you’d recommend we check out that isn’t musical, like films/documentaries, novels or games? What do you guys do to occupy yourselves while on the road?

We are all 9-5 normal working people, like most of us. If we could do the band full time that would be incredible, but we didn’t get the chance to grow and reach an audience and market outside Australia until well later in life; once life had us committed to roles and responsibilities outside music.

The band is dedicated to taking our music as far as possible, but we have some limitations on what we can do, spending most of the year on the road is not possible because we rely on our jobs to afford to tour. That’s the catch.

As such, life outside the band is pretty normal. We all have our interests. For me, I am a big reader – both fiction and non-fiction, really into film, as is Jason (vocals) and we go to shows every now and then, to keep in touch with what’s happening in the local scene or seeing bands that are touring or friends bands from interstate.

When on the road we spend our down time doing what we do best other than metal – drinking beer! But we also take in the sights when we can.

Currently reading The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave, the graphic novel Saga by Brian Vaughan, Scott Snyder is doing great work on Batman, The Fog of War is a documentary about Robert McNamara that I have seen several times but continues to shock me each time I do. I also recently read Mortality by the sadly passed Christopher Hitchens but would recommend reading God Is Not Great by Hitchens or The End of Faith by Sam Harris. 30 Rock, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead soak up my kick back time. I also really dig street art and contemporary art, so I soak that up when I can.

Finally, I’m curious on your thoughts towards the topic of gun control. In Australia, there are very strict gun control laws and apparently there has been a fall in gun violence in your country due to that. What are your thoughts towards gun control in America? Do you think it would be as great of an outcome as in your country, or do you think that it wouldn’t really make a difference?

Following the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, Australia in 1996, the Howard Government introduced laws to severely restrict gun ownership to a very narrow selection of licensed gun holders and weapon types. It was a law that is highly commendable and reacted to the horror of the incident. Prior to this was the Hoddle Street incident in Melbourne, but these two incidents are the main two incidents of gun related mass killing in Australia’s recent history. Comparatively, the U.S has experienced shocking gun violence in recent years and throughout its history.

Our countries do not share a similar history or constitution once we became sovereign nations. The U.S has faced revolution and civil war and its constitution and the second amendment in part reflect that history. But the argument for the right to bear arms to prevent tyranny is questionable in the face of massacre such as Sandy Hook or Columbine, let alone the daily toll of gun violence committed in America every hour. The tyranny of gun violence instead rules the day. It appears the Obama administration is looking to challenge the right to bear arms in part but faces the opposition of some of its people, politics and the lobby power of the NRA. Looking from the outside in, Sandy Hook should have drawn the line.

Violence in Australia is an issue, but gun violence is not; because reason and law thankfully prevail. I do not know if tighter gun control in the U.S will bring the same outcome, it faces such massive political and cultural opposition and would lead to probable violence between state and civilians if enforced, that I think it unlikely. And yet again, that is a difference between our countries as we are different in our cultural and historical experience.

Thanks for your answers and for a truly solid album! Best of luck to you guys in the future. Hopefully you’ll play the states real soon!

Greg (bass/lyricist) here from Truth Corroded. Thank you for the great interview! It is the best I have had so far, great questions. Appreciate the support and effort – thank you.

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