New albums by old bands tend to suck (with a few exceptions), and I can’t lie and say I’ve been particularly impressed with anything Florida death metal legends Massacre have released. after their album. From beyond. Someone in the Massacre camp must have been okay with this, as two experienced musicians, Taylor Nordberg and Jeramie Kling, were brought in to write a new album and inject some courage into the band. Although it didn’t work out, they decided to release the album instead with a new band titled Inhuman condition alongside Terry Jones, the legendary bassist who not only played on From beyond but also on Death’s spiritual healing and on the last two Obituary albums, among others.
Too bad for Massacre that they failed to get what would become Rat°God under their own name, as it is Massacre’s best album since the band’s classic days. Brutal, catchy and well-written, it doesn’t tread any new ground but appeals to that stripped-down death metal sound that so few bands have achieved since the genre’s inception in a way that goes beyond basic nostalgia: Inhuman Condition has the riffs and songwriting skills to make it work. Even the gorgeous cover that Dan Goldsworthy painted for her manages to simultaneously look like an 80s Repka cover without the lame pizza grease HA BRO LOOK AT THIS attitude that stains so many similar modern attempts to recapture that bygone age, which applies pretty much everything here: Rat°God is almost something that shouldn’t work, but it really does.
Read below for an interview with guitarist Taylor (and a guest appearance by Terry Butler) and don’t miss one of the coolest albums of the year!
What made the time come to start a new band, and what does it bring you more than your other bands? For Terry in particular, how does it feel to go back to the kind of material you played in Massacre after these years?
Taylor: Jeramie and I were invited to join Massacre in the fall of 2019, and we were asked to write the band’s new album. So we wrote 14 songs in a month or two and recorded our drums and guitars in our Smoke & Mirrors Productions studio. Over the next year, it became a situation that we had to leave, but we didn’t want to give up the tracks, so we decided to start a new band. The songs were written to be a Massacre album, so it was obvious that it sounded a bit like Massacre. We decided to call the band Inhuman Condition because A is a killer band name, and B is because of the obvious nod to Massacre. Terry came on the scene and it made even more sense, because he had written the song Inhuman Condition on the Massacre EP.
Terri: It was a pleasure to play this material. The music is killer and the guys have done a great job capturing the sound of late 80s and early 90s death metal.
Does this mean that there is a surplus of written material to carry over to future releases?
Taylor: Indeed! We originally had 14 songs completed, so we have 5 that will go on album #2. And it’s not that these songs weren’t as good as the 9 chosen for Rat God, but they just had a “second album” feel to them, if that makes sense. Some riffs push the boundaries set by Rat God a bit, but it has a similar vibe to Rat God because it was all written and recorded at the same time. I can’t wait for these tracks to come out, because some of them are over 2 years old at this point, and some of them have my favorite parts from the lot or original songs.
Taylor, you mentioned earlier that you and Jeramie were brought to Massacre and asked to write the next album for them; have you ever been brought in for this stuff? Is joining an established band to write their music something you enjoy doing, and is it nerve-wracking trying to fit into the legacy of a legendary band?
Taylor: We were asked to join the band, and therefore write the album, rather than being asked to join the band as mercenaries. It was said when we joined the band that we would be equal members of the band and all that, but they were excited to write new material, so that was all the motivation we needed. We haven’t really been hired as a writing team before, but we join most of our bands at the same time, so we bring a certain sound into whatever project/band we play with. We don’t write the riffs for Ribspreader or Eye of Purgatory, but we get Rogga’s riffs and take them to all sorts of different places, whether it’s doubling his guitar tracks, adding harmonies, melodies, solos, keyboards, etc. Would love to start getting gigs as a hired writing staff! We love to see how much of a chameleon we can become. That’s basically what we did for Smoke & Mirrors’ “All In One” album that we did at the start of the pandemic. We wrote 12 different songs in 12 different metal subgenres, each written, recorded, mixed and released in 1 day each. I don’t think any of us feel any pressure coming into an established group. We’re going to bring our characteristic of playing no matter what, so we both adapt pretty well to our own shoes and trust that we can more or less pull off anything. (Except maybe some ultra-tech brutal brutal death stuff, haha!)
Listenable Insanity Records seems like a smaller, newer label than Inhuman Condition might have ended up considering the band’s experience. Why did you decide to give them a chance for this album, and how was the experience?
Taylor: When we decided to make this band, we wanted to do everything ourselves and control the release of the album from top to bottom. We had several offers from labels around the world, but we wanted to keep everything in-house. Listenable Insanity Records is a label that Jeramie and I started about 5 years ago to release our side projects. We own the song editing, we own the artwork, merchandising designs, etc., so the middleman was cut out. We signed several licensing agreements with smaller labels around the world who released different versions of the album (some digipak, some boxes, some cassettes, etc.).
We weren’t sure how the reaction would go, since it’s a new band, but the reaction was absolutely stellar!! I have personally sent out all of our orders and the positive response has been overwhelming.
Is it difficult to balance the time spent shipping orders and managing logistics with being part of the group? Do you think it will be sustainable when touring resumes?
Taylor: It’s not too difficult, but managing most “managerial” tasks takes a lot of time. The three of us are pretty good at dealing with social media, which unfortunately is a job these days. So it helps, whether it’s replying to messages or posting about upcoming events, etc. For the first month or two after the album was released, it was pretty busy in our shipping area. I personally sent out all of our Bandcamp orders, so it was basically a full-time job for a while! We’re all happy to kick ass for this band, and that’s okay, because we believe in what we do and really care about this band and the music we make. If we go on heavy touring it can get difficult, but our fans understand that when we’re on tour we can’t run our store either, unless we find another arrangement or put the store on the road. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there, haha!
The illustrations on Rat God are some of the coolest in this style I’ve seen in years. Where did the concept come from and how did you choose Dan Goldsworthy to do the art?
Taylor: Jeramie had invented the concept of art originally. I had stumbled across Dan’s artwork after seeing the Xentrix album cover he did, which is totally killer! It has a cool 80s/90s vibe, which perfectly matches the sound we are trying to capture. So we had a few face-to-face conversations and phone calls regarding the concept of a scummy guy stepping over dead bodies on a staircase. Dan sent a sketch a few days later and it was amazing! Once he sent the last piece, we were completely blown away. It’s such an amazing piece. In fact, he blew us away so much that we nicknamed him Dan “Babe Ruth” Goldsworthy because he knocked him out of the park!
Will Mr. “Ruth” continue to do your covers for future releases? Do you particularly like the consistency with working relationships for groups and aesthetics?
Taylor: I think all the common parties are very interested in working together again! Jeramie has a few art ideas in mind, and I’m sure Dan does too, because he’s also an ultra-creative weirdo! We’ll never say “we’re using Dan for the next 4 albums and then we switch” or anything, but we’re definitely using him for the next album art and Merch designs as well. Some bands don’t care about aesthetics, or don’t find it important, and a lot of them get derailed and ignored. Marketing is a big part of why heavy metal is so popular. How many times have you heard people buy Iron Maiden albums because of the art? Or death ? Or Cannibal Corpse? Or Venom? Iron Maiden are geniuses for using Eddie and having something so recognizable it’s like seeing McDonald’s Golden Arches or the Wal-Mart logo. Marketing is key, and I’m so glad we got such artwork for our debut album, because it was a major selling point. We’ll be trying to outdo ourselves when it comes to packaging and merchandising for album #2, so that’s something I’m really excited about.
Was it ever difficult to coordinate busy schedules to make Inhuman Condition happen? Will the band continue to exist in the form it is in now when intensive touring starts again with your main bands?
Taylor: Jeramie and I had no problems on our end, as I live about 20 feet from him and the studio, so it was actually a super easy process! Terry had a few Obituary live streams to work on when we asked him to join the band, but he had worked on his bass parts and came in to record and pound 14 songs in 2 days. It was a really easy-going and stress-free process! The band is 100% a real band and will continue to record and tour as much as possible. We’ll have to work our schedules around the schedules of Venom Inc (Jeramie) and Obituary (Terry), but we have a few things in the works, so stay tuned!
Will Terry be more of a writing force now that the band is established?
Taylor: Yes I think so! We’ve only just started writing our next album (apart from the 5 finished songs), but we’ll be writing until we feel we’ve written enough, so hopefully Terry can throw in some riffs while that he’s on tour, and we’ll have some of his classic riffs on it!
Rat°God released on June 4, 2021 via Listenable Insanity Records.