Waelmist – Buried in BloodThursday, 5th July 2018
New England has had a wide array of heavy music appeal across all genres for decades. From classic/traditional offshoots to symphonic acts, and everything from doom to thrash, power, progressive, death, and black metal, chances are there are a couple of bands parading their material in front of legions of live audiences in one of the six states currently week in and week out. A recent discovery from the North Shore of Massachusetts, Waelmist recently issued their debut self-titled six song demo and aim to be one of those go-to acts if you crave a raw, primal form of thrash with punk and death inflections. Speedy riffing, abrasive vocals, and relentless, go for broke atmosphere appear to be staples of the band’s approach – culling influences from the US and abroad in the process.
Firing off questions to the band via e-mail, you’ll get answers from all four members of the group: vocalist/bassist Jesse Cornelisse, guitarist/vocalist Angel Reyes, guitarist Cobra, and drummer Adam Sellew. Prepare to learn more about the band’s brief history, the learning curve and experience gained from this debut demo recording, favorite albums and concert memories, plus what the future holds for this promising quartet.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell me regarding your earliest memories surrounding music, how you discovered metal, and what led to you picking up an instrument to start performing in bands?
Angel Reyes: When I was 12 years old I saw a music video for Children of Bodom’s “Blooddrunk” and I was in awe. At that moment I decided that’s what I wanted to do with my life. My buddy sold me a shitty Stratocaster for $20 and used it to jam with my friends in our naïve jams as growing musicians.
Jesse Cornelisse: I’d always played music, regardless of the genre and so on. I was the child asleep in bars when one of my mother’s boyfriends would play out. Judas Priest was my first love though.
Cobra: When I was a little kid I used to absolutely rock out to NES music. I didn’t grasp it at the time, but that shit is just metal 8 bits at a time! Still love it. I picked up a guitar at 14 years old after my Dad finally relented and bought me a Fender Stratocaster. I looked up to guys like Dimebag Darrell, Kirk Hammett, Jimi Hendrix and others. I just wanted to be cool, have fun and get girls. Classic teenager stuff.
Adam Sellew: My family was never big into music. I discovered metal mainly through what was popular at the time like Metallica and Pantera. Since the internet was kind of in its adolescence, you had to rely on word of mouth more in those days. One I hit high school and started making friends with people more like me, I started discovering all kinds of new stuff. It was actually in high school where I began playing music. I was looking for something to do after school and a friend suggested I join the school band with him. They needed a drummer and that’s how I started.
Dead Rhetoric: How has Waelmist evolved since its inception in 2015? Have you gone through any changes to get to the current lineup you have, and did you know straight away the qualities you wanted to inject into your brand of thrash metal or was this a natural evolution process that took shape through rehearsals and personal band chemistry?
Sellew: I started Waelmist with a friend who was just looking to jam and have fun. At the time I was playing in another band with Angel and asked if he wanted to be a part of this dark thrashy project I had going on. He joined up and soon after that it was just the two of us. We went through several auditions for bass, rhythm, and vocals. Jesse and Cobra are friends of ours and eventually they ended up in the roles that they have. Angel and I had a pretty clear vision as far as how we wanted the music to be from the very start and I’d say we’ve done a fairly good job of maintaining that throughout. Part of what led us to adding Jesse and Cobra to the group was their excitement for the sound we were trying to accomplish.
Reyes: We’ve gone through a number of rhythm guitarists. We’ve tried out weirdos who look like they’re gonna go on a psychotic rage to dudes who couldn’t keep up at all. We had this dude named Chris for a while who was working out great, but he moved because his job offered him a better position in Pennsylvania. Eventually John joined, learned the songs fairly quick, and became one of us. I know Adam had an idea of what he wanted the band to sound like and he explained it to me. I wasn’t quite sure how to make the sound he wanted so I just tossed him a lot of riffs that we worked and molded around.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell us regarding this self-titled six song demo EP that you’ve recently released? How do you believe the songwriting and recording sessions went – were there any specific surprises, obstacles, or hurdles that you had to overcome to reach the final product?
Cornelisse: Well we recorded it three times. There are three different versions of this shit out there with three other songs piled on that we’ve given up on since. Despite what you’ll probably hear from Adam, the easy part was the two months of final recording sessions we had. At that point, we had already gone through the motions of getting the instrumentation playing nice together. We spent countless hours with myself and Adam hammering away on vocals to try and get the sound right, him losing patience, me getting polyps all over my throat from going for too long…there was a process.
Cobra: As far as the recording goes, we owe a lot to Jesse. We recorded at his home studio and he put in more work than anyone. I’m a bit of a novice as far as recording so I had a lot to learn but it turns out your boy is a beast. Smashed through my tracks ahead of schedule. Boom.
Sellew: I can tell you I learned a lot of what I don’t want to do in future recordings. We also experimented a lot with things. Right off the bat Jesse and I wanted to try some unconventional things. For instance, we recorded the drums in a long weekend by recording nothing but the actual drums first and then doing all the cymbals separately. That was intense and I probably would never do it again. Maybe if we had more time. More than anything I consider this demo and the whole process behind it a valuable learning experience. If you liked this one, the next one will blow you away.
Dead Rhetoric: A trademark of the band’s sound seems to be the natural raw nature to the vocals and tones, injecting a bit of punk/extreme energy into the proceedings. Do you believe you naturally take influence from the early days of thrash just as much as the current crop of bands who have a wider array of styles to draw from?
Reyes: I definitely take a lot of influence from old school thrash and death but I like to put a modern frame on it. As for my vocals I really don’t try to mimic anyone. I’m just trying to sound like a bear with a smokers cough.
Cornelisse: Yeah I mean it has to have that punk feel, I’m a huge fan of shit that captures that raw emotion.
Cobra: We willfully cultivate an old school aggressive thrash sound. Some of it is an homage to a style we never want to see die off because we love it. Between the four of us though we have a wide array of influences scattered throughout the universe of music genres. I expect as our songwriting process continues to mature that you will hear some more of these start to show themselves more prominently. And we fuckin’ love RIFFS!
Sellew: Personally most of my influence comes from the older days of thrash and punk. Slayer, Kreator, Metallica, Exodus, Overkill, etc. Jesse tends to push for more of a heavy metal sound like Venom, while Angel takes a lot of influence from heavier bands like Death. Then we mix it all together and dump out a Waelmist song.
Dead Rhetoric: How did the violent cover art come to be? Do you believe it’s an accurate portrayal for what the listeners should expect for musical and lyrical contents?
Sellew: Angel sent us some photos to check out. We picked that one and slapped some blood and our logo on it. I actually didn’t think we needed any art for it but I’d say it’s a pretty damn good portrayal of what to expect as all the songs are about executions and methods of execution. Everyone really likes it so I was wrong about the ‘no art’ thing.
Reyes: I found the photo on a Facebook page called War Is Hell. It shows a Chinese Nationalist Soldier executing a Guangzhou Anarchist Commune, 1927. The band has no political agenda or interior at all. We simply want to portray the horror and inhumane ways of mankind’s history and begging the question; is it okay to kill someone like this? How much do you really value life?
Dead Rhetoric: What’s the Waelmist philosophy when it comes to playing out live? What do you hope to get across to the listeners, and what have been some of your most memorable shows to date?
Reyes: I think we want to give an experience that throws chills down your spine and makes you want to slam your body all over the earth. Our first show was quite memorable. A simple translation of our name is ‘Death Mist’ and there was a thick fog covering the whole city. The most poetic thing I ever saw.
Cobra: We’re still fairly new to playing so we put a lot of emphasis on making a good impression. We want to get up there, set up our gear, shred faces with our set, and break down our gear quickly. Remember to thank the other bands, the venue, the bartenders and the people who came out. We stay humble and put in work, we’re paying our dues right now.
Cornelisse: Sometimes we’ll all stand outside and punch each other before the set. Sometimes, we’ll make a list of horrible things to say to each other and whisper them to one another right before the first note. Anything really. Cobra made me walk two miles in the rain to a venue in the middle of nowhere once because I was being ‘too positive’.
Dead Rhetoric: What are your thoughts on the potent New England heavy music scene? It seems like there is a great network of bands, promoters, venues, and fans willing to support all styles and varied bills…
Cobra: I can’t say enough great things about the people in the New England metal community. Metal is alive and well here but there is room to grow and I’d love to see it happen. Support the bands you like. Buy their merch and their music. Every bit helps to keep it going.
Reyes: There is a thriving scene here in New England. If you don’t think so, you’re not looking hard enough. Some shady people here and there, but for the most part I’ve met a lot of great promoters and people in general.
Dead Rhetoric: Where would you like to see yourselves within the next two or three years as a band? Are you content to keep things very DIY/self-contained or do you have designs for seeking out a bigger level of support through management, booking agents, or record label support?
Cornelisse: We just made a decent demo…I think we’re ready for our St. Anger. No, I’m open to ideas, label support would be cool for an endgame but hey, we just released a demo. I just wanna get back in and start recording more shit.
Cobra: We’ll consider opportunities as they come up. Right now we are working on our live show, and writing new material. Playing shows and getting our name out there is our focus. We want to play for people and hear what they think so we can refine our style. Then we can think about booking agents and such.
Dead Rhetoric: How important are tools like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, and Bandcamp to your promotional endeavors? Do you try to maintain a balance between that type of interaction with your fans just as much as face to face contact at shows?
Reyes: The internet is the easiest way to promote yourself, no doubts about that. But it’s best to go to shows that you aren’t playing, meet the bands, people, and promoters there. Talk to them and you’ll see yourself having new fans. It also just feels more genuine than some guy randomly adding you just so he can show you his band. Don’t do that. There are better ways to show your music.
Dead Rhetoric: What would you consider five of the most important albums in your record collection – they can metal or non-metal? Also, what have been some of your favorite concert memories through the years, purely as a spectator/fan?
Sellew: GWAR – Scumdogs of the Universe; Metallica- Ride the Lightning; Kreator – Coma of Souls; Symphony X – The Odyssey; Ghoul – Splatterthrash. My favorite concert memory is definitely seeing GWAR for the first time. That and every time I’ve seen Goatwhore.
Reyes: Children of Bodom- Hatebreeder. All-time favorite that convinced me to be the best musician I can be. Death- Individual Thought Patterns. Showing me new ways to make dynamic songs. Dissection – The Somberlain. Melodies and heaviness are sick! Acid Bath- When the Kite Strings Pop. It’s okay to slow down and the lyrics mean a lot. Megadeth – Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying. Learn how to riff from this. My most memorable show is of Slayer a couple of years ago at the Tsongas Arena. I was with some pals and my buddy Chris Sanchez from Face First. When Slayer came on all hell broke loose and it looked like nowhere was safe. The most violent pit I’ve been in and Chris got knocked out and died for two seconds.
Cornelisse: I’d say Gorillaz- Demon Days, Judas Priest- Stained Class, Lost Sounds- self-titled, Nick Drake- Five Leaves Left, and Eyehategod- Dopesick. As for concerts, Gorillaz put on one hell of a show, I’ve very seldom seen a most pit as big as The Oh Sees, and one from myself would be the first time I saw a crowd of people erupt into madness from the music I was a part of… I will never forget that feeling.
Cobra: Top five things I’ve been listening to this month: Beast of Nod – Vampira: Disciple of Chaos, Brockhampton- Saturation III, Ex Dementia – Crack the Coffin, Ghoul- Splatterthrash, Lich King – Omniclasm. I’ll never forget the first time I saw Slayer at the Palladium. And if you’ve ever been to a sold out show you know how bad this is… I got a buffalo chicken burrito at the rest stop on the way and I had to take a shit at the venue. Great show!
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of the activities/hobbies that the members of Waelmist like to engage in away from music when you have the free time to do so? And do you believe it’s important to foster friendships within the band outside of your music activities?
Sellew: We play video games and drink. A couple of us even have significant others. I have a dog. We were all friends before we were in this band. One of our favorite things to do as a group is be absolutely horrible to each other.
Reyes: There’s a brood feeling in this band. We’re either engulfing in egg rolls, playing video games, being horrible human beings to each other or drinking. Friendship is an important thing. I don’t care how good you are at an instrument. If you’re a shitty person I’m not gonna be in a band with you.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the horizon for Waelmist over the rest of the year into early 2019 for activities, live shows, future recordings, etc.?
Sellew: Hopefully dropping a full-length album but for now just writing new tunes and playing gigs to try and get some recognition going.
Reyes: Play more shows, hopefully do a tour, record a full-length and get even better as a band.
Cornelisse: Vinyl and a tour. That’s all I want, that’s all I need. I think the band is itching to get out of New England. I’d love to link up with a like-minded band and make something exciting happen with those two goals in mind.