#ShedTheSkin 🇺🇸 #Interview

8 min read

Cleveland, Ohio’s Shed The Skin play a brand of death metal that sounds fit for slicing through bone. With the band having released their excellent latest album — Thaumogenesis — last month on Hells Headbangers Records I caught up with guitarist Matt Sorg to find out more about the band.

What’s the meaning behind the name “Thaumogenesis” and what’s the concept of the album?

Matt: I copied this definition from the internet because I don’t know enough about it to answer the question myself. Chuck Sherwood from Incantation writes the lyrics and comes up with the concepts. It’s a spell of some sort, a ritual I think where a demon is created. I also think that a recently deceased corpse is involved in the ritual. What I do know for sure, is that it’s great subject matter for a death metal song and works well for the album title also.

Thaumogenesis was the process through which a new being was created as a by-product of a spell. Usually the resulting creature was a demon. This acted as a universal price for having the caster’s will done, or as Anya Jenkins described it “a gift with purchase”.

The artist, Justin Meyers, that did the album cover, did a great job of depicting this ritual.”

The band has been consistent — releasing an album every two years, since your 2016 debut Harrowing Faith. Are you a well-oiled juggernaut at this stage, or did Covid threaten to fuck-up your timelines?

Matt: The music for the whole Thaumogenesis record was written during the lockdown months in 2020 so Covid didn’t slow us down. I work in a music venue and it was closed down of course and we had to cancel a couple of tours that Ringworm was about to go out and do so I had plenty of free time to sit and come up with the riffs and songs for this album.

Was there anything new recording or production-wise that you tried out in the studio for the latest album?

Matt: Yes.The previous records were all recorded here in Ohio and then they were sent to Dan Swano in Sweden to be mixed and mastered. This time, we decided to have our good friend Noah Buchanan handle the mixing and mastering. I also tracked all the guitars with him and he really helped us get an amazing guitar tone on this album. He did a great job on the entire production. We’re all really happy with how this new album turned out. It’s our best sounding record and my favorite over all too.

The band members have a great amount of shared experience playing in other bands. How does Shed the Skin differ from all the other projects you’ve all worked on?

Matt: Kyle and I are in 2 bands together, Shed The Skin and our Discharge style band, Perdition Sect that we started with our friends, Mike Lare and Aaron Dallison as soon as the world shut down.

Perdition Sect is a very stripped down, old school hardcore kind of band which doesn’t sound anything like Shed The Skin’s thrashing death metal approach. It’s heavily Discharge inspired with some other influences like Venom and Neurosis thrown in too. Ed and I are in 4 bands together now.

We both play in Ringworm together. There are probably some similarities in the riffing style of Ringworm and Shed The Skin occasionally just because I do most of the writing for both bands but the delivery is very different. James has a very distinct vocal style which definitely sets Ringworm apart and while I do slip some death metal style riffs in there from time to time, it’s more on the thrash, hardcore and grind side of the fence.

The music for Ringworm’s new album has been recorded for a while now and James has finished the vocals on half of the songs so far. It should be completed in just a few more weeks. I think it could possibly be the most aggressive and intense record we’ve ever made and the production (like the Shed The Skin record, it’s being recorded and mixed by Noah Buchanan at Mercinary Studios) is already sounding great and it’s not even mixed yet.

We also started a hard rock/80’s metal kind of band called Rip Ryde during the lockdown which is a lot like an early Def Leppard, Kiss, Fastway/Motorhead, Scorpions mixture. Rip Ryde released our debut LP, A Taste For The Kill (also recorded, mixed and mastered by Noah) a couple months ago.

Ed and I also play in another death metal band that’s a bit more in the Death/Doom style called Vadiat with Brian Sekula from the old Cleveland 80’s death thrash band Terror and Joe Twardzik who was the drummer from an 80’s crossover band called Civil Disobedience that Ed was also in back in the late 80’s, early 90’s.

Vadiat is slower than Shed The Skin. It’s more of a doom metal approach that sometimes gets into mid tempos and some thrashier stuff. We just finished an album that was also mixed by Noah and it’s getting shopped around to labels right now.

In terms of laying down the tracks in the studio, were there any songs or parts that were especially challenging?

Matt: Ed and I had to struggle with the intro and outro on the record because I wanted them to play backwards to get that weird, creepy sounding effect that they have. In order to do that, we had to learn the melody both forward and then in reverse too. That was really tricky. Our brains were frazzled but we got it and it sounds really fucking cool!

For the intro, we had to play the melody in reverse so that when Noah flipped it around, it would play the melody the way it was written but with that strange sound that you can only get by reversing it. Then for the outro, we played the melody the normal way and Noah flipped that around so that it plays back in reverse. It was very confusing but I love how it sounds now that it’s done. It makes for a great way to start and end the record.

What’s the story behind the formation of Shed the Skin and how do you think the band has evolved from your earliest performances and recordings?

Matt: In 2012, Duane Morris from Decrepit asked me if I’d want to put a band together to play a Blood of Christ set at a show that he was planning on the 15th anniversary of our friend, Tom Rojack’s death. I was in Blood of Christ with Tom in the early 90’s and Duane and I both played in Decrepit with Tom after BOC broke up.

Our friend Aaron Dallison suggested that I ask Kyle Severn to play the drums for the tribute set and I asked Ed to play bass. Kyle and Tom were good friends and Ed played with him in the Civil Disobedience days, so everyone was on board to pay tribute to our friend and play a set of great classic Cleveland death metal.

The night was awesome! We all had a blast and a few weeks later, Kyle told me that he was still thinking about how fun that set was and asked me if I’d want to start up a band in that vein with him. I was still on a high from the show too and so we started the band that eventually became Shed The Skin.

Duane has kids and a full time job and he really didn’t have the time to be part of an ongoing band and so we asked our friend Ash if he’d want to join. He was way into it and finished recording the vocals on the 2 songs that we had already recorded for the first 7” within days of us asking him. Hells Headbangers agreed to release the 7” just based on the lineup alone without ever hearing any music and that’s how it all came together.

What are you all doing with your time when you’re not playing and recording music? Does extreme metal pay the bills?

Matt: Extreme metal definitely isn’t paying our bills. Haha. Not at all. We all have jobs.

How do you feel about the world of extreme metal these days?

Matt: I’m glad that there are still a lot of the old bands from the 80’s and early 90’s out there playing. In the last week, I’ve seen and got to play with Deceased, Incantation, Nuclear Assault, and Nasty Savage all at the Carolina Chainsaw Massacre fest that John McEntee put on and when we got back from that ,I saw Demelich put on an amazing show here in Cleveland.

This week, Ringworm gets to play a couple shows with Voivod who we are huge fans of. There really aren’t a lot of new, young bands that I’m a fan of these days but we’re all still having a great time playing metal and getting out there to see a lot of the bands that we grew up listening to and going to see when we were younger.

Are there any active bands that you feel Shed the Skin shares a kinship with?

Matt: Definitely Incantation. John and Kyle are metal brothers and John is very supportive of Shed The Skin. Chuck writes the lyrics for us even and Luke is super cool too, so we definitely have a kinship with those guys. They’re all great friends of ours. Here in Cleveland, we’re great friends with Kurnugia. They’re a really great band and their last album is spectacular.

Nunslaughter and Midnight are also very good friends of ours that we’ve known for many years and we enjoy playing shows with.

Now that the album is out what plans for promotion and live shows do you have for the coming months?

Matt: We just played the Carolina Chainsaw Massacre and we have a show in Cincinnati coming up at the end of July with the band Oxygen Destroyer who we played with once before. Very good band.

Unfortunately, between the fact that we’re all in so many other bands whose schedules we have to work around and also that Kyle owns his own construction company that keeps him busy (which is the reason that he no longer tours with Incantation), we are pretty limited in the amount of touring that we can do.

We hope to get out there and do some more festival gigs and book some more shows here and there but we can’t just hop in the van and go out for weeks at a time anymore.Ringworm still does that but Shed The Skin just isn’t able to do it at that level.

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to mention or promote?

Matt: I’d like to thank you for letting me talk about the band and I hope everyone checks out Thaumogenesis. Thanks Tom!

Interview by Tom Osman

Thanks to Matt for his time. Thaumogenesis is available now from Hells Headbangers Records on CD, digital download and streaming. Check it out and get your face peeled off.


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