Since the release of their demo, the "Burden of evil" 7" and their classic debut album "Imperial doom" Monstrosity has always been one of my favourite Death Metal bands. All those who still think that Morbid Angel is the ultimate Death Metal band from Florida should check out the real masters. Morbid Angel had their time, but especially their latest record "Heretic" is not my cup of tea. Anyway, Monstrosity are still there after all these years and with their strong new record "Rise to power" Monstrosity will hopefully gain the attention they deserve.
Hey Lee, it's so good to do an interview with you! I've been into Death Metal since the late 80s and Montrosity have always been one of my fave bands! But before we come to the interview, do you have any introduction to start this one off with?
LEE: Hello, I just want to clarify our line up as there has been some confusion. The line up consists of Jason Avery Vocals, Tony Norman guitars, Mike Poggione Bass, Sam Molina guitars and myself Lee Harrison on drums. We have had Jason Avery back in the band for almost a year now so everything is working good with him.
As I said Monstrosity are one of my favourite Death Metal bands ever, so I was very pleased to see that there's a new album coming out soon on Metal Blade! What can you tell me about "Rise to power"? Where and when did you record it, who produced it, how many songs will be on it etc. Please give me all possible information concerning "Rise to power", like when did you start writing the songs for the album etc.
LEE: The album contains 11 songs and was recorded at Audiohammer Studios in Sanford Florida with engineer Jason Suecof. We recorded it in July 2003 and pretty much spent the whole month working on the recording. We started writing the album as we were finishing our last Cd. We had ideas already for the next album just like now we have some ideas for the next CD. We take our time to make sure everything is perfect and up to our standards before recording or releasing anything.
I think for a couple of years in the mid 90s the Death Metal scene was pretty dead, with Black Metal on the rise. Even the old cult bands had to suffer from decreasing interest. But for quite some time now real Death Metal is on the rise again, and I'm glad about that! Do you think that Monstrosity will finally gain the attention they deserve? I mean you're such a great band but in the past things didn't always turn out the way they should be when I think about your previous record labels. Do you think that a label like Metal Blade who works hard for their bands can finally help you to get where you belong: To the top!! Is the title "Rise to power" also connected with that?
LEE: Surely that is the idea. We feel we've made a solid album that can compete with any of the other current releases and so hopefully with Metal Blade pushing the record we can finally get the recognition we have been waiting for. Ultimately it doesn't matter as long as the die hard fans like it, they are the ones who matter.
Along with "Rise to power" your classic "Millennium" is going to be re-released on Karmageddon Media. I was wondering why it's not coming out on Metal Blade, too? Or on your own label. Will there be any extras on the re-release like bonus tracks etc.? And will the cover art be the same (I hope so as I liked the original one very much)?
LEE: The contracts haven't been signed yet so I'm not sure if it will happen for sure. The album was reissued in the US last year and has always been available here. If people want to find the album they can check the Conquest Music site (www.conquestmusic.com)
What about a re-release of your debut "Imperial doom"? Without a doubt this record is a true Death Metal classic, but unfortunately it's very hard to find these days. I only have the vinyl version of it, but I'd really like to have it in digital form, too, haha, so what's your opinion about a re-release?
LEE: I'm sure Nuclear Blast is still selling it. I still see it in their catalogs. I would rather people hear the Enslaving The Masses versions because they are better. I can't even listen to Imperial Doom anymore.
Quite some time ago you released a double CD which contained one live CD and one CD full of rarities like the "Burden of evil" 7" and your demo if I'm not mistaken? I don't have that CD (yet), but I heard that there are some songs from "Imperial doom" on it, too, but in different versions? What's the reason for that, don't you like the sound of the original mix anymore and why did you include only a handful of songs from that killer album then?
LEE: The truth is we have never liked the sound of Imperial Doom and we have always thought it could be better. The 5 songs from Imperial Doom that we used on Enslaving The Masses were the original mixes which were better but the songs from the demos had more vibe so instead of repeating songs we just put the demos on as well.
"In dark purity" is an album that left me quite confused, not because of the music which is great but because there were no information at all included. No line-up, no date of recording, nothing! What was the reason for that? I guess you're not that satisfied with the job your former label did back then?
LEE: That was one of the main problems with Metal Age is that they didn't wait for the actual artwork and made the cover using a laser print and fixing the colors. We didn't even give them the song titles yet which is why the titles are all wrong. If you want a real copy of In Dark Purity check the Conquest Music site. (www.conquestmusic.com) The version you are talking about was the first version and was in a way an 'unofficial' version since we didn't approve the booklet.
Many people might know Monstrosity because of the fact that Corpsegrinder, your former vocalist, left your band to join Cannibal Corpse, but what not so many people know is your connection to Malevolent Creation in the very early days of Monstrosity. Some of you guys played in Malevolent Creation before, right? What can you tell me about that?
LEE: Yes. 3 out of 4 original members of Monstrosity were former members of Malevolent Creation. I left the band first and then Mark Van Erp joined but about a year later he left the band and that is when we got together to form Monstrosity. Not long after Jon Rubin left Malevolent so it seemed right to ask him to join our band. He really wasn't into this kind of music so when we moved to Tampa he stayed in Fort Lauderdale. Mark left the band in 1995 but I still hear from him now and then. He is in New York now playing with a power metal band called the "Holy Mothers". Jon Rubin played with Malevolent again for awhile but quit the music business not too long after that.
I clearly remember those days in the late 80s/early 90s when the Death Metal scene was really connected, with tons of people tape trading and stuff, also people playing in bands. What are your memories when you think back to these days? And what are the major differences in your opinion when you compare those days with today's Death Metal scene? Are you still in contact with some of those poeple from the "good old days"?
LEE; It just really was a different time. I wish I knew then what I know now but you can always say that, I think. Now everyone is so competitive and only worry about themselves so its definitely different.
Nowadays lots of Hardcore bands totally sound like (Death) Metal acts, and personally I think that's really cool 'cause there are lots of great bands like Heaven Shall Burn or Arkangel who have a Hardcore background. What do you think about Hardcore bands going more and more in a Metal direction? I'd really like to see more tours with Death Metal and Hardcore bands together on stage, what's yourt opinion about that?
LEE: I'm personally not a big fan of hardcore so I'm not really the one to ask. I liked the older hardcore stuff but it doesn't really influence what we do.
One thing that always surprises me is the fact that American Death Metal bands sound American while European Death Metal bands, especially from Sweden, sound unmistakeably Swedish. I mean there aren't many Swedish bands sounding like from Florida, while in the Hardcore scene bands come from literally everywhere and play similar styles like old school, new school etc. What's the reason for the typical American / European Death Metal sound in your eyes?
LEE: The main thing with Sweden is the guitar sound Entombed invented. After that Dismember came out sounding very similar to Entombed and then a million other bands came out sounding that way. Its probably something like that with Florida. All of the bands use the same studio or whatever... Unfortunately Entombed had their first album but after that I wasn't into what they were doing. Now they aren't even the same band sound wise.
OK Lee, we're at the end of this interview. Thanks so much for taking the time answering my questions! Hopefully you liked the interview and do you have anything to add? Hopefully we can see Monstrosity live in Europe in the near future again?
LEE: Thanks for the interview.... We can't wait to be back in Europe. !!! Good luck and we'll see you then!!!