Dead Asylum – Death and GloryTuesday, 8th August 2017
Emerging Brazilian thrashers Nervosa found themselves in a pinch last year when their drummer, Pitchu Ferraz, couldn’t commit to a round of North American tour dates. Needing someone who was capable, Dead Asylum drummer Samantha Landa got the call, quickly learning the band’s set, proceeding to knock it out of the park in the process. Her fill-in work with Nervosa speaks volumes about Landa’s talent and tenacity, two things that also serve her well in Dead Asylum. Hailing from Vancouver, the band was formed in 2011. Their subsequent 2013 General Carnage full-length debut was the proper jump-start to their career, but this year’s Death Always Wins is the obvious next step forward. A brazen offering of riff-heavy thrash with melodic death metal elements, Death Always Wins finds Dead Asylum going to bat with visceral, hard-charging tunes – think Gothenburg going brutal – that displays puts Landa’s fantastic drumming on display. Wanting to delve further into not her career but Dead Asylum’s, we sent Landa some Q’s. Here’s how she responded…
Dead Rhetoric: What did you learn by filling in for Nervosa in 2016?
Samantha Landa: It was a lot of little things. Being a fill-in or session member sometimes means adapting your playing or performance style to give the fans what they expect from that band’s live show. I had to learn the songs in under a week and fly across the country with minimal notice. I definitely learned that stepping outside of your comfort zone pays off so much. I picked up some tricks on the Europe tour as well. Mostly ones I already knew about, but never took seriously until I saw how effective they were in practice (like Jason Bittner painstakingly mapping out his gear footprint).
Dead Rhetoric: Did you work in Dead Asylum in any way prepare you for the Nervosa tours?
Landa: We rehearse regularly, and I’m always feeling “ready to go.” I’ve been playing gigs and casually touring for years, so I can act professional and be respectful while still having an awesome time.
Dead Rhetoric: In what ways did the tours improve your drumming?
Landa: Touring is great for any player’s endurance and chops. Performing every night is exhausting and rewarding. It keeps your body limber, that’s for sure. Before the Nervosa tours, I didn’t do a lot of thrash drumming. I had to quickly work on my skank beats to make sure I could keep up–and, like I said earlier, make sure I meet the fans’ expectations of the drum parts. Now, I’ve played those beats a million times and I’m a much better thrash drummer than I was a year ago!
Dead Rhetoric: As for Dead Asylum, it’s been four years since you last released an album. Why the long break?
Landa: We had some conflicts and member changes, and man, it’s expensive to make a well-produced album. We all needed to get on the same page before we could move forward. Our current lineup is awesome. Everyone is aligned on our goals and we’re all investing a lot into moving the band forward. I’m personally glad we took our time before releasing a new album.
Dead Rhetoric: Roger (Mowat, bass/vocals)) and Eric (Morrison, guitar) are still relatively new to the band. What do they bring to the table?
Landa: Roger is a solid musician: he plays bass like a demon in Dead Asylum but he’s also an exceptional lead guitar player in his other band. He knows how to hold down the bass rhythms, but he’ll throw in cool licks, too. His vocals really complement Mike’s vocals (we had a former member doing second vox on the last album) and he’s really at home in the band now.
Eric blows our minds with the leads he writes. He’s a trained jazz guitarist who runs circles around the rest of us with his theory knowledge (except maybe Roger), so his leads and solos are often a little unconventional, throwing in notes or runs you wouldn’t expect, especially in metal. When he first joined Dead Asylum, he was writing leads over some of the new songs and we’d be in awe of the stuff he was coming up with. I think our sound is much more developed now.
Dead Rhetoric: Death Always Wins is certainly a profound title. What inspired it?
Landa: It’s a recurring theme in the band, with song titles like “Bred To Die,” “Between Me And The Grave.” Death is inevitable, and life is kind of a gamble. Sure, it’s a pretty common theme in metal, but it’s important to keep addressing it. It’s what puts us in touch with our own mortality and brings us down to earth. I think the title came out of a random conversation when we were jamming. It’s simple and everyone can somewhat relate to it.
Dead Rhetoric: You are inspired by the Gothenburg bands, but you certainly don’t sound like them. Is it difficult to balance your influences versus trying to write something fresh?
Landa: We each bring in personal influences, which are really diverse. So that combination of influences gives us our sound more than the bands we all agree on (like the Gothenburg bands).
Mike listens to a lot of old school thrash. Eric is trained in jazz guitar. Roger writes a lot of deathcore stuff for his other band. I like melodic death metal. All of those personal influences combined gives us this eclectic melodic death/thrash mix. You get Mike’s thrashy rhythms and riffs, Eric’s jazzy/neoclassical leads, Roger’s punchy bass lines and backup vox, and groovy drums with lots of cymbal work from me. Somehow it works!
Dead Rhetoric: You have a U.S. tour coming up later this year. What are your expectations?
Landa: We have zero expectations. We just want to do our thing, share the music and have a good time. We’ve only played the western US before, so we’re stoked to tour to a lot of new cities.
Dead Rhetoric: For you personally and the band, what’s on your agenda for the rest of 2017?
Landa: Dead Asylum is supporting Battlecross and a killer lineup of Canadian bands at the Loud As Hell Festival near Calgary, Alberta. We’re touring for a month around the U.S. before we come back to Vancouver and support Dark Tranquillity, Warbringer and Striker. After that, we’re going to work on some new music and plan next year’s touring schedule. We’d like to put up some play-through videos and other content in the meantime, maybe do another video–we’ll see!