Axis Mundi With Autographed CD Booklet
For the better part of their 16-year existence, California-based death metallers Decrepit Birth haven’t followed the rules. From debut album, 2003’s ...And Time Begins, to new album, Axis Mundi, they’ve shuffled the tried and true tenets of death metal into something defiantly other. Certainly, the Surf City denizens have written and continue to write brutally brutal music, but after years of purveying labyrinthine riffs and blasts at light-suffering speeds, they’ve transcended, they’ve transformed, they’ve gone beyond. Decrepit Birth in 2017 aren’t entirely the same band that unfurled ...And Time Begins in their twentysomethings.
Written in Matt Sotelo’s kitchen or at his computer desk—a fairly prosaic picture compared to the next-level intensity upon which Axis Mundi pivots—the majority of Decrepit Birth’s new, trail-blazing music originally had a different shape and color. Sotelo eventually axed songs he labeled “crazy and wild” for a more economical approach. Relatively speaking. He was more into the feel of the riff than expanding upon the multitude of multitudes he normally emits like a mad scientist with eight arms.
“The first song I finished was ‘Hieroglyphic,’” recalls Sotelo. “I will say ‘Hieroglyphic’ is a good representation of this album. It’s got a little bit of everything in it. It shows what we’re about right now. The last song I wrote was the last song on the album, an instrumental called ‘Embryogenesis.’ I used a 7-string guitar on it, but not in the way that a lot of people use 7-string guitars. It’s not percussive. It’s layered. See, I like to experiment. I’m glad I got to try something that wasn’t standard death metal. I’m not trying to put down bands or fans, but I like songs that have weird things going on, like samples or MIDI parts.”
Sotelo cites the strength of songs like opener ‘Vortex of Infinity - Axis Mundi’, ‘Hieroglyphic’, ‘Mirror of Humanity’, and ‘Epigenetic Triplicity’ on Decrepit Birth’s reconfigured lineup. Drummer Samus Paulicelli and bassist Sean Martinez aren’t exactly new to the group—both have acclimated nicely over the last few years—but they’ve pushed Decrepit Birth, compositionally and musically, up a few notches. Axis Mundi wouldn’t have been the same without their involvement.
“They’re two very talented musicians,” Sotelo beams. “I’m lucky to have them working with me. Both of them bring a lot. Sean probably is the best bass player—technically—we’ve had in the band. His bass lines and the way he plays bass are amazing. If you listen closely, he’s doing a lot of cool lines. As for Samus, he has his drumming to offer, which is huge. There’s very little he can’t do. He’s amazing. But he also contributed [to the songwriting process]. He’s a good songwriter, an amazing all-around musician. He wanted to help me write the songs. Not the riffs, but help arrange the songs. He wanted to create something different from what I came up with. So, I let him. I decided to have Samus help us out. He’s got the skill. It’s a lot of good stuff he contributed to the record.”
While most of Decrepit Birth’s peers aim lyrically and conceptually for the jugular—blood and guts are a never-ending font of inspiration—the Golden Staters have opted for the mystical and the arcane. Chief lyric writer and frontman Bill Robinson gets many of his ideas from literature and imbibing in mind-altering substances. For Axis Mundi, Robinson centered the lyrics on a theme. From opener ‘Vortex of Infinity - Axis Mundi’ through ‘Epigenetic Triplicity’ he’s taking the listener on a synodic journey, where portals to inner and outer spaces are opened for the intrepid.
“I’m going to be honest here,” says Sotelo. “Bill is responsible for all the lyrics and the concept. I know axis mundi is the center of the world. The world energy center. Energies of the heavens coming down to the Earth. A portal. So, there’s a theme. They’re connected. We’re not the typical lyric writers in death metal. Bill’s lyrics are almost psychedelic. Weird and esoteric. He’s out there. They’re not happy. They’re not hippie shit. They’re fringe, on the edge. They’re dark. And I like it that way! For this album, it’s an all Bill thing. Even the cover."
“I don’t know if we’re going to re-shape death metal,” he counters. “We’re just a band. We’re doing this. We’re fans of the genre. We do our own thing with it. It’s our own paint job. What sounds cool to us. We don’t aspire to be the most technical band out there. The technicality isn’t our main goal. Technicality is part of what we are. When we were writing this album, we wanted the songs that had riffs that repeat. There’s more structure with our new stuff. We’re trying to write good music. We want entertain people out there. Hopefully, everybody likes Axis Mundi.”
- Number of discs: 1
- Label: Nuclear Blast
- Mono/Stereo: Stereo
- Catalog Number: NBA37940