Cathartic Demise – Slice the Dark Blade

Saturday, 24th April 2021

Hailing from Kitchener, Ontario Canada, Cathartic Demise strive to level listeners with a progressive brand of thrash metal that encompasses elements of the past and present. Following up an impressive self-titled EP from 2019, In Absence takes the band’s style even further – heavier riffs being heavier, the progressive and speedier passages even more advanced, as well as incorporating a mixture of extreme or melodic/harmonic accents to broaden dynamic textures. Still making a footprint as an independent act, chances are if they continue to excel at their craft with each successive release, stronger label support could come knocking at their doorsteps.

We reached out to guitarist/ vocalist Bennett Smith once again to bring us up to speed on the new record, the cover art, how the band has been handling the downtime in this pandemic, band chemistry, as well as upcoming plans including a special Canadian compilation appearance.

Dead Rhetoric: In Absence is the latest full-length from Cathartic Demise. How did the songwriting and recording sessions go for this effort – and where do you see the major differences or growth in the band between releases?

Bennett Smith: The songwriting and recording was similar to the EP. I had most of the songs written before the band was put together, with the exceptions being the title track and “For Power” which was written last as the album needed a proper opener. The biggest change from my perspective is in the chances being taken with the songwriting and trying to step outside of our comfort zone.

Dead Rhetoric: In our previous talk, Bennett mentioned that he wanted Cathartic Demise striving to be your own band, not trying to be the next Metallica or other veteran artist. Do you believe the development of your musicianship and intricacies through songs like “Blade in the Dark”, “Desire”, and the title track help set you apart in forging your own outlook as a progressive thrash band?

Smith: Hopefully! Trying to blaze our own trail instead of taking the easy way out is certainly the top priority for me. Playing a sound that thousands have already done is just about the least appealing thing I could possibly do with music, but I think the answer ultimately lies in the reception this album gets.

Dead Rhetoric: Where did you want to come across with the lyrical content on this go around?

Smith: The aim with lyricism for me is to try and make something that someone can relate to. I write about personal things, but the goal is to translate my own personal experiences into something palatable that can touch people.

Dead Rhetoric: You went with a different cover artist for In Absence – tell us a little bit about the concept and the process of working with Ioannis Vassilopoulas?

Smith: We grew up absolutely loving the Fates Warning records The Spectre Within and Awaken the Guardian and the album covers were ones that I was always impressed by. When the discussion about album art came up it was a swift agreement that we would go with Ioannis.

Dead Rhetoric: How have things been in Kitchener, Ontario Canada regarding the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you believe with the vaccine rollout life will get back to some level of normalcy, as I’d imagine that you miss bringing Cathartic Demise out as a live act over the last year?

Smith: I feel like the whole world is experiencing this time the same way. It sucks! Hopefully normalcy returns sooner rather than later, as I know we’re all stoked to play these new tunes live.

Dead Rhetoric: What would you consider three landmark albums in the metal realm that you believe shape your outlook on the genre – and who do you think within the fifty plus years of the existence of the genre is highly underrated that you believe more metal consumers need to invest time and energy in to discover and appreciate?

Smith: There’s honestly too many to choose from! I guess I’d say Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast first. The energy, the optimism, the grandiosity, all wrapped up into a cohesive whole blew my mind when I first heard it at 13. I don’t think it’s their best album in retrospect, but it definitely is their most impactful for me. Second, City by Strapping Young Lad. The authenticity, the aggression, the atmosphere. To this day the heaviest album I have ever heard and the ultimate benchmark for making an album that can resonate on a deeper emotional level. Finally, Edge of the Earth by Sylosis, who also happen to be my answer for most underrated band. This was the band and album that showed me that rules were meant to be broken. The best thrash album ever made. An unmatched balance of riff-based aggression, emotional heart and that unspeakable “X-Factor”. This band is simply the best that has ever made this style of music and I have zero apprehension saying that in print.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received from someone you’ve met or another musician that you’ve been able to apply to the career of Cathartic Demise? And has anyone ever sought you out for advice regarding music or the business side of things – if so what words of wisdom do you try to impart?

Smith: We’re very lucky to have a group of people that are incredibly supportive of what we’re trying to accomplish, and if I’m honest it would be too hard to pinpoint one piece of advice that sticks out for me. As for what I would tell people? Do it for the right reasons, and be ready to work harder for it than anything else you have ever done.

Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the band chemistry amongst the members of Cathartic Demise? When there are specific frustrations or times of stress, how do you work things out?

Smith: We often get comments on our chemistry, and I have to say I agree. We’re really just four friends that understand each other very deeply and I never fail to have a great time when I’m in the same room with my band. The fights we have had are very few, but we’ve had some not so great moments for sure. We’re at a point now however where we can discuss things with each other, and cool heads always prevail.

Dead Rhetoric: Where would you like to see Cathartic Demise in terms of a career over the next two to three years? How do you balance out the regular life/career obligations with what you are trying to achieve as a band?

Smith: It’s difficult to say with the current pandemic, but hopefully a tour when it ends. Basically just spreading the word, more fans, more songs, more memories.

Dead Rhetoric: What have you been enjoying for music as of late – do you enjoy new music as much as the classics?

Smith: Always have lots of stuff going. Cyclone Temple’s I Hate Therefore I Am, Awaken the Guardian by Fates Warning, pretty much the whole Nevermore catalogue as they’re a newer discovery for me. As for new stuff, really into the 2020 record from this band called Loathe, kinda shoe-gazey noisy prog thing, really unique. Iotunn’s Access all Worlds is some awesome prog stuff. This synthwave band called The Midnight too, fantastic melodies.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the agenda for the band following the release of the record over the next twelve months? Are there any other side projects or guest appearances we can look forward to – maybe a conceptual video, playthroughs, or other things cooking in the background until the live circuit opens back up?

Smith: We definitely have a lot of things in the works. Not too much I can reveal at the moment, but we’re keeping very busy I promise! We are going to be on a compilation of bands from the Kitchener / Waterloo area of Canada where we cover our favorite bands. Jonah Kay from Invicta just came up with the idea for something to do during quarantine. He filmed a little mini documentary about our scene here and asked us to be a part of it basically. We are doing a Megadeth cover of “Good Mourning/ Black Friday”.

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