Soul Remnants – Infinite ExtremityTuesday, 25th July 2017
Blue collar, nose to the grindstone application pays dividends in certain markets across the world. New England has a reputation from the musicians themselves for solid skill sets at their instruments beyond tenacious belief and persistence – and isn’t just the birthplace of metalcore anymore. It’s not shocking then to see more acts from the area rise to the level of receiving worldwide label offers – building a reputation through DIY ethics, solid recordings, and consistently appealing live performances.
Take Massachusetts band Soul Remnants. Since 2003, the group has been through their fair share of lineup changes, but refining their approach to death metal by consistently adding in thrash, progressive, or blackened elements to give the material this push and pull of aggression against melody – something you don’t hear very often in newer bands. Imagine taking the best of early 90’s death work from the American side – but tempering things with the finesse and outlook of many Scandinavian artists, and that will clue you in on the Soul Remnants songwriting. Their third album Ouroboros captures these diverse influences seamlessly – propulsive drumming, crushing riffs, catchy lead breaks, twin harmonic accents, and vocals that can be discernable even through a growl/screaming context.
Guitarist/main songwriter Tom Preziosi took the time recently to discuss the back and forth process of signing with eOne for this new record – the benefits of being on a video game like Rock Band 4, views on European touring, and discussion on numerous metal bands past and present. All the while getting in some key thoughts on Soul Remnants as well…a fun chat indeed.
Dead Rhetoric: What were some of your childhood memories related to music? At what point did you pick up an instrument and then begin the journey into playing with metal bands?
Tom Preziosi: Let’s see. My brother Aaron really got into music at a very young age, he was listening to a lot of Aerosmith and Van Halen and some other traditional, classic rock stuff like Led Zeppelin growing up. I come from a very musical family, I ended up picking up a classical guitar from my aunt around age 13. I was self-taught, so I started getting into Ozzy, Metallica, and Megadeth around that time. The whole 80’s thrash and classic metal at the time, I spent some time learning Slayer riffs and such. Moving onward and upward from there.
Dead Rhetoric: So you picked up the guitar first before you picked up the bass?
Preziosi: No, I started on the acoustic with classical, trying to get the hang of it. I switched over to bass probably around 15- I met Chad (Fisher), who is the other guitarist in Soul Remnants now- but back then I was playing bass in a grindcore type band with the old drummer of Soul Remnants going way back. So I did start out on bass, which I still play to this day- but eventually moved to electric guitar around the age of 17. That was when I started taking the electric guitar seriously.
Dead Rhetoric: Ouroboros is the third Soul Remnants album – an ancient symbol that also is an emblem for infinity. Do you believe you’ve really defined and honed your own style through this record compared to your first two albums?
Preziosi: Yeah, I would say so. I can’t say that we’ve totally defined our sound because I think that it’s always going to be evolving. I really feel it’s unique and a step into a new territory for us. We are bringing it to a next level conceptually. Continuing the continuity of what we started with Black and Blood. Plague of the Universe, our first album was us just trying to make a death metal album, where now we love death metal and that’s what I want to play – we are definitely moving forward with a new style for ourselves.
Dead Rhetoric: Discuss the long development from the studio sessions to signing a deal with eOne – how did you gain interest from them and how did the band handle the waiting out process, as I heard the drum recordings took place over three years ago and this record has been done for quite a while?
Preziosi: The record has been done for a while. We worked with another label on Black and Blood, and it was okay. We got a little bit more press, but a lot of that was driven by us. We got a decent deal getting it pressed and they did a decent job of getting it out there. For the third album, we were thinking that we were going to just go (the) independent, DIY route- because we have done alright on our own, why don’t we make the most of it again on our own ourselves. That was going to be a quick turnaround- as I wanted this album to be out at the latest during 2015. But here we are in 2017 and it’s finally coming out.
So what happened is we recorded the drums, started working on the guitars, and I’m not exactly sure how eOne got interested in us. I think the song that we did getting into the Rock Band 4 video game got us some notoriety. This underground death metal band, how did they end up on the video game? I think they saw that and thought it was pretty awesome. We were very much rookies when it comes to major label agreements. We went and dealt with the process as best as we could, there (were) a lot of things to think about going from a local band to being a signed band, there are some business aspects that come into play. Creating an LLC to divvy up the funds properly, take care of tax situations and all that fun stuff which I am loving right now, sarcastically. The press that we got from Clawhammer PR helped us on Black and Blood, those guys got it in the hands of some really good reviewers, got the word out there and we did some tours and that led to eOne getting attention for us.
Dead Rhetoric: How did you get the chance to appear on Rock Band 4 with “Dead Black (Heart of Ice)”? How has the feedback been, and do you feel you gained new people that may not have otherwise checked out Soul Remnants through other channels?
Preziosi: Oh yeah, without a doubt we have. Tons of video game kids are buying our albums now, and it’s pretty cool. I think a lot of people may never have heard of us but really liked us now getting this chance. We got that opportunity because Mitch (Fletcher) our vocalist has been a long-term employee of Harmonix who does that game. We had a definite in with it, they do a lot of music for video games- the people there, a lot of them are musicians and they submit their bands. 70-80 bands were chosen from, and it wasn’t a definite shoe-in, but we thought about trying this as that particular song was very dynamic, and it will translate to a video game pretty well. Luckily, I was right, and we’ve got a really good reception from it. Many people have said it’s their favorite song on the game, I take that as a really good compliment.
Dead Rhetoric: Which came first – the futuristic, dystopian war conceptual story or the music? Do you end up fleshing out certain tracks based on the needs of the storyline and how you would pace things?
Preziosi: I came up with the concept of the story before we had all the music. I wanted something that was going to flow- but I didn’t want to let the concept take over the songs and really change it. A lot of things are left for interpretation, but there is a definite story going on within the album. We made the songs with the story in mind, but let ourselves create the album we wanted to create without any restriction about where we wanted the narration to be. We let the songs work themselves out, we didn’t want to fatten things that wouldn’t really serve the needs of the song.
Dead Rhetoric: Were there any tracks that seemed harder to capture or get down due to the intricacies?
Preziosi: I would say so. We have a couple of slow chuggers on this record. “Echoes of Insanity”- it wasn’t necessarily the hardest to track, but it’s one of the more powerful songs in my opinion. “Dissolving into Obscurity” on the other hand is pretty blistering all the way through. That was not straightforward in the studio. The really technical ones, like the first track “Mechanical Synapse Modulations” just gets right out of the gate and never slows down, that one was a little tricky too. Overall, we are a band that practices a lot, we try to prepare well for the studio.
Dead Rhetoric: Is it fair to say much of your outlook and execution comes from a diverse set of influences, some more brutal and others more progressive and technically inclined, as you can hear semblances of Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Monstrosity, and various periods of Death in a lot of this material?
Preziosi: Oh yeah. My favorite bands are Iron Maiden, Hypocrisy, Mayhem, Black Sabbath- it’s all over the map. Death is one of my all-time favorites, extremely influential. We have a lot of roots in the old school death metal- and a lot of 80’s stuff. We love to run the gamut from having guitar harmonies flying around to brutal blasting and Cannibal Corpse/ Suffocation style aggression. You are spot on with that.
Dead Rhetoric: What takeaways did you have from your 2015 European tour a few years back in support of the second record Black and Blood? Did you get a different feel and appreciation for the crowds, bands, and venues overseas compared to what you experience stateside?
Preziosi: I had a great time over in Europe, they really know how to take care of bands there. We got really great treatment from people and fans. It makes us definitely want to go back, that’s for sure. We are looking at plans for a European tour, sometime in the first or second quarter of 2018.
Dead Rhetoric: Does your approach to guitar with Soul Remnants differ from your bass activities in the more straight-ahead power metal band Armory that you also are involved with? Do you find equal enjoyment out of both bands because of the stylistic differences?
Preziosi: Yes, I do. I definitely enjoy both for the differences as you said. Armory, I’m not the main writer in that band- I’m contributing to the compositions that Joe Kurland and Chad work on. With Soul Remnants, I’m the main writer in this band- I’m playing to my own style and my own strengths. I can stretch what I can do on bass with Armory. It’s a good experience all around.
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