Kurnugia – What’s Old Is New

Thursday, 16th February 2017

In Babylonian mythology, Kurnugia is the underworld. When it comes to underground credibility, this Ohio death metal quintet embodies the principles of old school based on their steady development decades into their musical journey. Containing ex-members involved in notable extreme acts like Decrepit, Nunslaughter, December Wolves, and Delusion, Kurnugia keep the early 90’s death sound on point through their latest effort Condemned to Reality – featuring four originals plus their own takes on a couple of Autopsy and Grave tracks.

Feeling the need to learn more about this band, bassist Brian Bergeron kindly took some time to answer these questions. You’ll learn more about the five-year development of Kurnugia, including how they gained the interest of Italian label Lord of the Flies, the magical times of the early death metal movement, as well as how instant technology and social media has changed the game for promotion, even for independent, underground death metal.

Dead Rhetoric: Tell us about the origins of Kurnugia in 2012 – did you know each other previously due to your vast experience in the underground death/extreme metal scene with other bands? And did you know right away the type of old school death metal style you wanted to go for?

Brian Bergeron: We started in 2012 as you mentioned as a four-piece with a different drummer and singer/guitarist. I’ve been in different bands with those guys before so it was quite easy getting things going. I’ve always wanted to do this style of music but never got the chance as most of my previous bands were always not 100% what I wanted to do musically.

Dead Rhetoric: Tribulations of the Abyss would be your first release in 2013 – how do you feel the writing and recording sessions went for this effort? Were you happy with the public and press response to this?

Bergeron: The witting and recording for this went fairly quick. We had a friend record us for free so the results are decent for a first release. The response was way better than I expected especially since we were a new band doing a style that’s been around so long. I think most people knew we’ve been around forever in other bands and we’re not some kids just trying to jump on the next trend.

Dead Rhetoric: How did you gain the interest of Italian label Lord of the Flies Records? Do you feel that it’s easier today to deal with overseas labels given the instant technology/ internet means of keeping in touch versus the old days of snail mail, tape trading, and long wait times often for responses to get things done in a timely manner?

Bergeron: Lord of the Flies contacted us pretty much as soon as our 7″ was released. He was the first one to offer us a deal so we went with him on the Condemned to Obscurity release. It’s much easier to set up deals with overseas labels then the old days no question, but I do miss the magic of actually writing to bands and getting letters and tapes in the mail. Those were very fond memories of tape trading and writing to bands in Europe. Most kids nowadays don’t even know about sending an actual letter in the mail or getting a tape in the mail, ha ha. It was different times indeed.

Dead Rhetoric: You recently released your latest EP Condemned to Obscurity. Are there any specific reasons and circumstances regarding the three year wait between recordings, and how did you come upon the idea in the track listing of two new songs, two re-recordings of the older material, and Autopsy/Grave covers?

Bergeron: The reasons are many…Life, Jobs, Kids etc….plus we’re not the fastest of songwriters. We had our first line-up change during that time as well replacing our first drummer and getting the great Chris Dora on board. We actually recorded this about 2 years ago, and it was just released in 2016. We just basically used the 2 newest songs first then the 2 older ones then the covers.

Dead Rhetoric: Who designed the cover art for this latest EP, and how important do you believe the visual medium is to the genre?

Bergeron: Raul Gonzalez did the artwork for the EP. I do think the artwork is very important in the genre. For me personally I don’t care for typical gore and satanic art, I like something that’s a little different and I think our cover was a perfect choice for the band.

Dead Rhetoric: How often are you able to play out live with Kurnugia? What have been some of your favorite shows so far and how would you describe the band’s attitude and philosophy when it comes to live shows versus recording in the studio?

Bergeron: We’ve only done maybe ten shows, we don’t play out very often (hopefully that will change now). Some of my personal favorites would be Milwaukee with Dr. Shrinker, Lakewood with Sadistic Intent and a fest in NYC with Hobbs’ Angel of Death, Bloodfeast and others. We have a new solid line-up now with some guys from the legendary Embalmer joining us on vocals and second guitar. These guys are motivated and I think it’s our best line-up to date.

Dead Rhetoric: What impresses you most about those late 80’s / early 1990’s death metal bands both stateside and abroad? Do you currently follow a lot of the newer bands that maybe get a little more intricate and technical than the older, more groove/riff based bands?

Bergeron: Those were magic times that will never be recreated again. I loved discovering new bands back then (still do). I’m very up to date on following newer bands and always looking for new stuff. There is actually a lot of good newer bands out today that play in the old ways. I’m not into technical stuff too much, I like stuff you actually remember after listening to it. Most bands with 100,000 riffs and super fast drums bore me. The late 80’s/ early 90’s will never be topped but if you listen to newer bands with an open mind you can find some real gems doing the style justice. Basically, nothing is original anymore in any genre of music.

Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the major differences in terms of promotion and development of a following in 2016 compared to the 1990’s and 2000’s that you all were a part of pre-internet? Do you believe even in a social media age, it’s tough to maintain as active an engagement as it seemed to be with print fanzines, radio shows, distributors selling product, and hand-written mail due to the numerous entertainment factors and free-time available?

Bergeron: The problem I have with this is it’s not based on hard work, rehearsing, making demos, etc…. it’s based off Facebook likes and YouTube views, this is a problem for me. It’s so easy getting a record deal now unlike the old days. A lot of bands get signed without even doing one demo tape which is crazy to me. The people my age know how hard it was promoting bands, sending out demos, doing hundreds of shows just hoping maybe you’ll get an offer to do a 7″ let alone a record deal. Now it’s so easy to click a few buttons on the computer and you’re signed. It’s more based on internet hype than actual musical ability or hard work.

Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel about the death metal scene overall? What impresses you the most and what needs to be improved upon to make the movement healthier for all parties involved?

Bergeron: I think death metal and all the sub-genres are bigger than it’s ever been since the late 80’s. It’s cool there is a whole new generation getting into all this stuff. I hope it’s done for the right reasons not just cause it’s the in thing to do now. Just as the black metal trend or the thrash metal trend etc. etc. My only complaint is the whole Death-Core crap or hardcore bands using HM-2 pedals to sound Swedish just like they all used to try and copy At the Gates. Do what’s in your heart not what everyone else is doing cause it’s cool.

Dead Rhetoric: What concerns do you have about the world that we live in today?

Bergeron: The world is doomed, without getting into politics. I’d rather talk about Autopsy or Immolation (laughs).

Dead Rhetoric: What types of goals do you set for Kurnugia in the long-term? Has work begun on the next set of original songs, and will the next release be a full length or are you content to churn out EP’s?

Bergeron: Up next for Kurnugia is another 7″ which we’re recording now. Long term hopefully a new album (Momento Mori records) by the end of the year. We are working on new material now to try and get enough songs for a new album. I’d be content to keep doing 7″s, EP’s or albums it doesn’t matter to me as long as material is getting recorded and released it’s all good. You can buy some of our merch at www.kurnugia.bigcartel.com/ and contact us at www.facebook.com/Kurnugia . Thanks for the interview my old friend.

Kurnugia on Facebook