"I JUST TRY to think of the most demented possible images in my brain and try to figure out the worst way to describe them." That's how Justin Friday, bass player and vocalist for Portland's death metal lurkers Ritual Necromancy, bluntly and plainly describes his songwriting process.
"I have morbid fascination with a lot of things," Friday continues. "I'm more interested in the polar opposite of positivity and the light, I guess. Just the complete opposite of fun."
Drummer Kevin Schreutelkamp adds to Friday's sentiment. "We just try to make the darkest-sounding nightmare of quote-unquote music."
These might sound like the words of a couple of grim figures with dried blood in the corners of their mouths and dirt under their fingernails from digging up the dead. Don't be fooled. Ritual Necromancy are a quick-witted bunch who smiled and laughed quite a bit during our interview. But when it comes to their music, the cavernous terror they describe is exactly what you'll get.
The four-piece band's first full-length, Oath of the Abyss, is as unsettling as death metal gets. It is a swirling, pummeling cacophony of chaos and unholy mayhem. It's like pressing your ear up to the chest of a rotting corpse and listening to the maggots and parasites devour it from the inside out. Their most recent EP, Void Manifest, is not much different. The production value is slightly less suffocating—allowing the listener to find purchase—but there's still an abundance of gurgling horror and the dementia of blasting riffs.
Where does Ritual Necromancy go to find inspiration for such ungodly sounds? "Uh... the cemetery," says Schreutelkamp. "We spend a lot of time there. There's one by the house that's pretty haunted. We just like to hang out there, watch the shadows dance, and kinda get inspiration from that—musically and lyrically."
While Ritual Necromancy chose long ago to go down a path of unbridled brutality, as they age they're making a little room for hooks in their new material, according to Schreutelkamp.
"We're getting old. As a kid I just wanted to be the most extreme, with disregard to any melody or anything musical. But in my old age... I like a good song." He laughs, "All the years of listening to Scorpions is finally catching up to me."