Interview: Wes Warren of Left Cross Talks ‘Upon Desecrated Altars’

I love a beautiful, allegorical work of art as much as the next guy, but sometimes you just want to cut the nuance with a blade. Or, if you are a certain death metal band from Richmond, VA (home of a lot of fucking blood in the soil), you cut it with a knight’s sword. Upon Desecrated Altars, Left Cross’ recently released, and first for new label Profound Lore, wastes no time getting to brass (bronze or iron?) tacks here. The record acts like a siege on your neck muscles and serves as a reminder of the power of the old gods of death metal.

Fear not, my HM-2-loving friends, Left Cross have never been mere Bolt Thrower worshippers—though I am sure their army would carry their legendary logo on their shields—as everything here sounds fresh and lively. There’s a care to the songwriting and performance that ensures the auditory assault lands squarely where it needs to: the cervical spine. Like a carefully placed sword swing or long-distance arrow, Upon Desecrated Altars highlights a group who know how to deploy their arsenal efficiently and effectively. Like the other rising death metal future Lords, Left Cross built their prowess through a formidable live show, and their love of the unholy rites of in-person performance pours through the speakers. This is a feast for murky, violent death metal. (I refuse to call this war metal.)

The key to any success – in battle or on record – is a unified front, and Left Cross have that in spades, as vocalist/bassist Wes Warren states:

“In the early stages of the band we set out to write the kind of music we would want to listen to, and that hasn’t really changed over the years. The context in which we write is death metal, but there are so many subtleties to the genre that we’ve wanted to explore that we never felt like we’ve been in danger of repeating ourselves or getting stuck in a corner. We’re really driven to write quality material, and that’s been the motivating factor as long as the band’s been together.”

“We really wanted to push the boundaries of our songwriting capabilities,” he adds. “A lot of the bands we take influence from not only have incredible riffs, but the records sound so cohesive and curated as well. We put a lot of emphasis on how the songs fit together as ultimately, we are looking to make something that sounds good from start to finish.”

In the past, the band used a dual-flank method of writing, where the ability to sound equally powerful live and on (let’s be honest digital) records mattered; that still stands:

“We always prioritize how things will sound in a live setting. Normally one of us will come into practice with a riff or an idea and we’ll jam it out but after a certain point the songs seem to write themselves. We get into a kind of fluid state where everyone is throwing around suggestions until someone nails it. I think this is beneficial to us as there is no finished product until everyone has had a say, and there are four different minds working to create the best song we can, so a lot of different ideas get thrown around until we are satisfied.”

While no one expects the Spanish Inquisition, there’s a clear dark parallel thematically here. The beautifully grotesque cover art hints at the lyrical destruction—and given their name and previous acknowledgement of left-leaning politics, it shouldn’t surprise you that Left Cross are not religious conservatives. Warren explains:

“I’m hesitant to call it a concept, but the idea of the record was to explore the idea of some sort of demonic crusade, hellish knights bent on desecrating the holy land sort of thing. There is nothing subtle about the lyrics or themes. The lyrics are deliberately worded to conjure the images that the song titles represent and provide a setting for the listener. This is sort of an homage to Celtic Frost’s To Mega Therion. The lyrics to that record put a very clear picture in your head to accompany the music in a very distinct way, and that was my intent with this record.”

Upon Desecrated Altars is available now from Profound Lore Records. Follow Left Cross on Facebook and Instagram for future updates.

Photo courtesy of Michael Thorne

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