Today we got to speak with New York’s brutal death metal band and lead vocalist Will Smith from Afterbirth!
MPM: First off Will, thank you for wanting to do the interview. Secondly, those who aren’t familiar with your name, could you introduce yourself to what you do for the band?
AB: Hi, thanks very much for the interest and support! I am the vocalist of Afterbirth since 2016, I looked up to them as a young metalhead and it’s an honor to be in the band now. Rest in peace and all due respect to original singer Matt Duncan.
I also provide vocals for Buckshot Facelift, Reeking Aura and Artificial Brain but especially since the pandemic my main gig is hosting the Heavy Hole podcast.
MPM: Afterbirth recently released Four Dimensional Flesh through Unique Leader Records which contained a lot of buzz and the reception been nothing but fantastic from the extreme metal world, myself included who loved every minute of it. Would you say the album was a different and difficult process recording the record in comparison to The Time Traveler’s Dilemma?
AB: When I joined the band in 2016 the TTD album had been written already and just needed vocals. In contrast, I was present for the entirety of the writing and rehearsing for 4DF so it was a bit more organic and things came together very naturally.
MPM: Afterbirth’s been around since 1993 and are a huge influence in the New York extreme metal scene and bands come to mind from that state whether it’s Immolation, Pyrexia, Suffocation, Skinless, Cannibal Corpse, Mortician, and Morpheus Descends. What makes Afterbirth so different in comparison to the band’s I’ve listed and why should everyone check out Afterbirth?
AB: Those bands are all great inspirations and in some cases personal friends of ours. Afterbirth is just proud to be in good company like that. Original Afterbirth singer Matt Duncan was one of the first vocalists in death metal to ever use his guttural style, I believe he deserves lots of credit for that in terms of groove oriented NY style death metal.
MPM: You’re also the lead vocalist for the Technical Death Metal band Artificial Brain which are one of my absolute favorite bands in the extreme metal scene right now. Are there any words in regarding to a new album on the horizon?
AB: Thanks for the compliment! We are finishing up the third full length album very soon, unfortunately it has been delayed like so many other things due to current events.
MPM: With Afterbirth being on Unique Leader Records since the debut full-length The Time Traveler’s Dilemma, how’s the chemistry been and how does it feel being on the roster with such amazing bands on the label?
AB: We were very fortunate to be signed to the label by Erik Lindmark himself before he passed, it’s a great honor in death metal to be part of the Unique Leader legacy and one of my personal highest accomplishments as a death metal vocalist.
MPM: Since shows are on hold for the foreseeable future, what has been keeping you occupied for the time being and what are some of your favorite hobbies to down when not creating music?
AB: I host a weekly podcast called The HEAVY HOLE where I talk metal and interview different people. That has kept me sane during the last year. Also writing and recording has taken place for my different bands and Afterbirth began rehearsing in person again a few months ago. Besides metal I don’t have much of a life, really just work and fishing!
MPM: If Afterbirth were to create the ultimate dream lineup tour when shows resume, who do you see yourself touring with?
AB: My dream tour for Afterbirth would be to go on the road with our friends in Pyrexia and Cognitive, maybe in support of Defeated Sanity. I don’t know, there are too many bands I love to have a permanent answer.
MPM: Four Dimensional Flesh has incredible lyrical content ranging anywhere from Science Fiction, Space, little bit of Gore and Abstract themes and I noticed with every song when I’m reading the lyrics it feels more intelligent and realistic and that’s something I like about bands who expand their horizons to make the album feel genuine. What was the inspiration in creating such authentic and wonderful presentations on this album than past Afterbirth material?
AB: Thanks for the compliment. The other band members have input on song titles and ideas but I write the majority of actual lyrics. With Afterbirth I like to think of each album as a collection of short stories. All I can say is I watch a lot of classic sci-fi and horror movies and want to express something similar to how they make me feel. The Alien movies, Frankenstein, and the old television show Quantum Leap have all inspired some of the lyrics on 4DF.
MPM: Since you have a fair share with being in a Death Metal band and your vocals reminded me a mixture of Defeated Sanity, WORMED, Disgorge from California, Dying Fetus, Internal Bleeding and even I hear early Devourment which makes Afterbirths music so fresh and natural. Who would you say inspired you to be the vocalist that became the person you are today?
AB: Thanks again! To be honest I heard the original Afterbirth demo from 94 back in the late 90s with the original singer Matt Duncan and it had a huge impression on me. Also Antti from Demilich, Antimo from Disgorge and Matti Way.
MPM: What’s your current stance and status on the upcoming extreme metal scene with bands such as Disentomb, Visceral Disgorge, Abominable Putridity, and other bands in the Brutal Death Metal spectrum have created music that’s not only heavy, but also finding ways to inspire other bands?
AB: This is a great era for death metal and metal in general. There is lots of support for the music and I think it’s more respected nowadays by mainstream society. There are a lot of copycat bands but you just have to sort through them and you can still find really unique, inspiring death metal being made. I respect all the bands you mentioned.
MPM: What tracks from Four Dimensional Flesh would you say is your proudest moment and most favorable in your opinion?
AB: I’m proud of “Beheading the Buddha”. It’s a really fun vocal workout with old school and modern guttural vocals. Cody came up with lyrical concept of transcendence and ascension.
MPM: Are there any upcoming releases you’re excited to hear throughout 2021? If so, what bands are you anticipated to listen?
AB: I’m just excited for more interesting new bands popping up, like I said it’s a good era. At the moment I can’t think of anything specific but I’m still excited about bigger bands like Deicide, Monstrosity, Sinister and Pyrexia who are still delivering quality material, it’s inspiring.
MPM: How do you feel about physical media in music versus digital with vinyls and analog tapes making a big comeback?
AB: I’m a cassette and vinyl head since the 90s so I love to see record stores and vinyl back. I still stream off Bandcamp sometimes when I’m driving or at my job but otherwise I find streaming kind of hollow as a fan. As an artist I understand people enjoy the convenience of a digital format, it’s just not my personal favorite.
MPM: Lastly, I like to thank you for your time and effort to do this interview. We can only hope that shows, concerts and normalcy will return shorty than expected. Are there any last words you like to say to your fans who are reading this interview or information can be discussed for the time being?
AB: Thanks a lot for interest and support, times are tough and everyone is stressed out. Hopefully we can return to enjoying live music soon, I wish everyone the best. The underground metal scene has been great to me and I really appreciate all the music and people for keeping me going. Good luck in the future!
Interview by Jake Butler