If you happen to live under a rock, as I do, or you’ve let your Bandcamp-diving game wane over the last year or so you might’ve missed ‘Astral Bestiary‘ the incredible self-released ~24 minute debut EP from Toronto, Ontario-based (then) duo GUTVOID back in late October. It was a spectacular event, a space-crawling classic Finnish death metal influenced aurora of cosmic dread and nigh progressive yet doom-tinged ‘old school’ reap and no doubt the fine-tuned ears over at Blood Harvest Records heard the band’s gleaming future-self at hand. Formed as a duo but now fully occupied as a quartet they prepare for second impact while this official physical release (CD, Cassette) of ‘Astral Bestiary’ arrives this Friday, August 28th via Blood Harvest.
Since some of you are surely on the ball and have already heard the EP + additional single (“Forbidden City Beneath the Crypt”) from back in June, I’ve conducted an interview with the band to read while you support ’em by buying a CD or tape and hitting up the stream down below. Thanks goes to Blood Harvest Records, the band, and their representation for the opportunity to highlight the project/release with an interview and provide a pre-release stream.
Φ Can you give some general sense of how Gutvoid was conceived? Was the project an idea before it was a band or, what prompted the original collaboration as a duo?
Dan: When Brendan and I met back in 2004 we formed a band called Adytum, and that started the first of our collaborations together.
Brendan: Back in the summer of 2018 Dan and I first talked about forming a death metal band, which started with the name Gutvoid before anything else. We wrote a few riffs here and there and we kept bringing it up in conversation, but it wasn’t until Spring/Summer of 2019 that we really dove into it and started writing the songs that would eventually become the Astral Bestiary EP.
Φ Has the full four person line-up been selected for the future recordings, songwriting input, or more for the sake of touring capability?
Brendan: Yeah the lineup that we have now (with Justin on bass and Dennis on drums) is the full and complete lineup of Gutvoid, with everyone going to be on the recordings going forward and helping with the songwriting.
Dan: And to add, Brendan and I have known Justin since back in 2004 (he actually connected us through Ryan Lewis (the original Adytum bassist), who was a mutual friend between us).
Φ I was pretty late to the party with the ‘Astral Bestiary’ demo itself but when I first came across “They Came Dripping From the Stars” I’d gotten the sense that ‘old school’ technical death metal and specifically classic Finnish death metal (Demigod, in particular) was an important inspiration for that first song. “Entranced by a Frozen Dawn” has a heavy atmospheric death/doom kind of vibe which I’ve seen folks liken to Krypts/Solothus. Does that notion of inspiration fit your vision for the whole tape or, is Finndeath just one point of influence?
Dan: Yeah the Finnish death metal is definitely a big aspect of our sound, and was a main motivator when we decided to make Gutvoid – definitely bands like Krypts, Demilich, Demigod and Adramelech have influenced us (and Solothus are awesome too, though we actually didn’t know about them until after the EP came out).
Brendan: But we definitely have other inspirations outside of Finnish DM – bands like Gorguts, Mortiferum, Blood Incantation, Chthe’ilist, Timeghoul, Morbid Angel and Spectral Voice have all influenced our writing, both for the EP and for the new stuff.
Dan: We are also huge fans of prog too, so you can throw that in the general mix as well.
Φ Having Augury guitarist Mathieu Marcotte mix/master “Forbidden City Beneath the Crypt” must have been exciting, are you all big fans or was there a recording he’d worked on that you’d been particularly impressed by?
Brendan: Yeah we have always been huge fans of Augury. Back in the Adytum days we used to play with them basically anytime they came to Toronto/the GTA, and we are all really close friends with Mat and the rest of the guys in the band (I actually lived with Mat for a year in Montreal in 2010), so it was really great getting to work with him!
Φ Will you work with him again on the render of the full-length? Or, is the single version of “Forbidden City Beneath the Crypt” indicative of how the new album will sound?
Dan: We haven’t decided on the recording/mix or master for the LP, though Mat always does an incredible job and we would love to work with him again in the future, whether for the LP or otherwise. As for “Forbidden City Beneath The Crypt”, in some ways it’s indicative of the LP, with the new tracks leaning more into the death/doomy sound, but we feel that this single is a good segue way between Astral Bestiary and the overall sound of what the LP will be.
Φ I get the sense that technical/progressive music is a major point of focus going forward and from what I’ve seen you all are particularly organized in terms of composing, putting together sheet music and setting the bar pretty high in terms of detail. How much of the process in creation of ‘Astral Bestiary’ was traded between the two main performers (Bonofiglio, Dean)? Was it a matter of simply jamming and trading ideas or was there a main composer for the whole demo?
Brendan: The majority of the writing for Gutvoid is Dan and myself going back and forth using Guitar Pro. Usually one of us will write a portion or a chunk of a song and the other will expand on it until we both are happy with the result. It definitely isn’t the fastest method but it does allow us to really focus on composition, melody and structure.
Φ Do you use any particular composition or recording software that makes the songwriting process easier? Will programmed drums be used on future recordings now that you’ve expanded to a quartet?
Dan: As Brendan mentioned we use Guitar Pro for all of the writing, and each of us have home studios (I use Cubase and Brendan uses Protools). We’ll use the midi drums from Guitar Pro and toss them into Superior Drummer 3 and demo the tracks with that.
Brendan: For the EP and Forbidden City we just relied on Superior Drummer 3, with Dan playing the bass alongside one of the guitars, since at the time of recording those we didn’t have the full band together. But now going forward all recordings will involve the 4 of us.
Φ Are any members of Gutvoid classically trained or who carry degrees specific to music? As in composition, engineering etc.
Dan: All of us are all self-taught, but Dennis is going for his doctorate in ethnomusicology, as well as has had formal jazz training.
Φ Does Gutvoid’s style come with genre specific parameters? Is an ‘old school’ sound intended, or are certain vibes naturally funneled towards the project because they fit best?
Brendan: When we thought of forming Gutvoid, Dan and I definitely wanted to stick to death/doom metal generally and that still is the main “parameter” around the music. However all of our influences, whether they be OSDM, Death/Doom, prog or otherwise, do invariably creep into our compositions. We actually have some songs that we plan to release at some point after the LP that showcase these other influences.
Φ Digging around online and researching a bit gave me the impression you all are gearheads to some extent. Can you give me a rundown of key guitars, amps, and effects used on ‘Astral Bestiary’? Are you using eight string guitars on the recording?
Dan: Yeah for sure. On the EP I used my Ibanez RG7321 (which is the main guitar I use for Gutvoid) and for the tones we used all software (mainly Neural DSP and Amplitube).
Brendan: As far as the EP is concerned, I used an Agile 8 string (as I didn’t have a 7 at the time), but as of now I am using a Kiesel DC700x as my Gutvoid guitar (with both Dan, Justin and myself tuned down a whole step). Amp wise I use a Mega Boogie Dual Rectifier, Dan uses a 5150, and we both use Rivera cabs.
Φ I know you all have a number of projects concurrent with Gutvoid as well as a few in the works, is this one specifically limited to the atmospheric technical/progressive classic death metal influenced sound of ‘Astral Bestiary’? I guess what I mean is how rigidly will you stick to the original idea going forward?
Dan: I think we will always try to expand our sound but still maintain the classic death metal vibe that we were going for when we formed Gutvoid.
Φ I’ll assume all live performance, festival apperances and in-person plans are on hold for now. Any plans for live streamed performances in the future?
Brendan: We don’t have anything set yet, but we have definitely been talking about that as an option if live performances are on hold longer than we are anticipating. I would say if by the time the LP is out and we are unable to play live this is something we would almost certainly do. But depending on everything we do have something special lined up next spring if all goes well, so hopefully that will happen!
Φ Is it too early to start asking about full-length prospects, progress, or what’s up next for the band?
Dan: Currently we are learning the new songs for the LP in preparation for recording, which we are hoping to get underway early next year (all things considered). Other than that we are working on getting some merch going soon and always trying to write new material.
Φ Thanks for your time and consideration!
Thanks for the opportunity to talk with us and for premiering the physical release of our EP Astral Bestiary, out on Blood Harvest!
Here are streams for ‘Astral Bestiary’ and the single “Forbidden City Beneath the Crypt”. Support ’em! In Europe buy direct from Blood Harvest Records or you can usually hit up Me Saco Un Ojo or Iron Bonehead distro areas. In the United States Nuclear War Now! always has BH stuff in stock, so keep an eye out!
Per the press release:
BLOOD HARVEST RECORDS is proud to present GUTVOID’s striking debut EP, Astral Bestiary, on CD, 12″ vinyl, and cassette tape formats. The physical release of this EP is an appetizer for GUTVOID’s forthcoming debut album for BLOOD HARVEST, which will be preceded by a special digital single on June 12th [HERE]
GUTVOID hail from Toronto, Ontario and quickly set to work on their first public recording. While Astral Bestiary is indeed the quartet’s first recording, the members of GUTVOID collectively contain a wealth of experience within Canada’s extreme metal scene, and it duly shows in the EP’s eldritch-yet-fresh attack. Ominously swarming, churning forth with world-eating Metal of Death that devours the listener whole, GUTVOID traverse a wealth of compositional territory within the record’s three-song/24-minute runtime, dragging that listener across fetid slime and bestial grind, funereal doom and industrial-sized stomp, and even catchy headbanging parts…before the sinister slipstream takes that listener under, with all finality. To their credit, the quartet evade so much of the riff-less murk characterizing nowadays “sepulchral” death metal; if anything, Astral Bestiary maintains a refreshingly clear aspect, allowing every note to ring true and terrorizing. But make no mistake: this onslaught is literally MASSIVE, in every sense of the word.
As a leadup to GUTVOID’s imminent debut album for BLOOD HARVEST, the vinyl version of Astral Bestiary will include the digital single “Forbidden City Beneath the Crypt” as a special bonus. Hop on their bandwagon now before it’s too late!
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