INTERVIEW with SENTIENT HORROR
Today we got to speak with New Jersey’s death metal band Sentient Horror!
MPM: First off, how are you doing today? Secondly, those unaware of who you are could you introduce yourself to what you contribute for Sentient Horror?
SH: Doing fine, thanks! My name is Matt Moliti and I contribute lead guitar, vocals, and most of the songwriting for Sentient Horror.
MPM: The band’s been around since 2016 and based out of Stockholm, New Jersey. What would you say the music scene is like with heavy hitters in the community such as Fit For An Autopsy, Lorna Shore, Overkill, Symphony X and many more?
SH: I think historically NJ has had some pretty well known acts in different rock and metal genres. Its funny you mention Symphony X, since I was super into them when I was much younger and got to see them at a super low-key gig back in 2001 in the back of a motorcycle showroom in I think Plainfield, NJ. There are some really good bands in the underground death metal scene right now as well, such as Vivisect, Oxalate, and on the grindcore front, there is Organ Dealer.
MPM: Rites Of Gore is your upcoming full-length that’s scheduled to be released on the 22nd of April and is the band’s third studio release and will be handled by Redefining Darkness Records. How did the label get in contact with the band and how’s the chemistry between Sentient and Redefining?
SH: Thomas at Redefining Darkness got in touch with us early on when we were first searching for a record label and they’ve been releasing all our records ever since. He’s a really upstanding dude and we have a great working relationship. No plans on moving on anytime soon!
MPM: As a fan of death metal for a longtime now I’m glad the underground scene is getting more attraction and better than ever before. Would you say the same about the current era of extreme music?
SH: Yeah, especially since now that things are opening back up again there are shows and tours getting announced left and right.
MPM: When I heard Rites Of Gore in its entirety I couldn’t get enough of how structured and crafted this album truly came to be and I absolutely love the HM2 styled melodies alongside the doomy inspired harmonics in which this case your band pulled it off very well. Would you say this album is the most dynamic and energetic record to date from a musical standpoint or is this more of a new evolution and finding the sound?
SH: I think it is an evolution. The vibe is more straightforward and aggressive than our last record, Morbid Realms. That record was my attempt at making a true classic style death metal record in the vein of Left Hand Path by Entombed, with lots of tempo changes and riff changes. On this one the tempos are a bit more consistent in each song, and I was trying to inject more of some of my other influences outside of the Swedish scene. One record that was particularly inspiring this time around was Spiritual Healing by Death. A few people have caught on to that upon hearing the record, which is cool, but I think using the HM2 sound and tuning down to B standard kind of obscures it. Which is cool too, because then we can get some more variety in our sound without losing where we originally came from.
MPM: Was Rites Of Gore a more difficult approach in making of the record compared to past Sentient Horror releases or was it just a comfortable position in the members knowing what they’re expecting to dive into?
SH: It was difficult, actually. When I started writing it was the middle of the lockdown, we weren’t even able to rehearse, and at the time Evan (Daniele, drummer) had not rejoined since his hiatus right before Morbid Realms started tracking, so I think I was really sapped of the kind of inspiration you get from weekly rehearsals and regular shows. It started picking up once I was a few songs in and then I just got inspiration from how the songs were coming together. I’m very happy with how it turned out.
MPM: The album Rites Of Gore to me is basically a love letter to the Swedish death metal sound in which I hear many influences borrowed from Dismember, Entombed, Grave, Edge Of Sanity well as Bolt Thrower and Asphyx. What were your biggest inspirations in wanting to start a band and what artists motivated you to start doing vocals and playing guitar?
SH: My journey through metal and playing music in general is all over the place. My original inspiration came from bands my dad introduced me to. 70s Progressive Rock acts like Genesis, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, and Rush. I got into metal later on, and was originally really into the shred guitar and guitar hero stuff, like Yngwie Malmsteen and Jason Becker. I mentioned Symphony X earlier in the interview, they were really big for me in my early 20s with that style of playing. But eventually I discovered tech death because of the virtuosic lead guitar playing and that led me to discovering Death and Carcass, since those bands were name dropped a lot by the tech bands as influences. That was the beginnings of my journey into old school death metal. I didn’t discover bands like Entombed, Dismember, and Edge of Sanity until a little bit later on after that, but I really fell in love with that sound and that chainsaw tone. To this day, my main inspiration for fronting Sentient Horror, doing the leads, vocals, and songwriting is Chuck Schuldiner. I was also really inspired by Dan Swanö, both his vocal approach and his ability to blend the Swedish Death sound with prog rock influences on Edge of Sanity. That appealed to me a lot because I still love the aforementioned prog bands my dad got me into. Bill Steer and Nicke Anderson are also big songwriting inspirations for me.
MPM: Were you self taught in learning music by ear or did you take private lessons in wanting to improve and rest was history?
SH: All of the above. As a teenager I had some guitar lessons for the basics, but I was self taught for metal, until I went to Berklee for two semesters and I got to take lessons from Joe Stump, the resident metal/shred guitar professor there. I think having that schooled background simultaneously helped and hurt me when I started doing old school death. It helped because my ear got really sharp so I could figure a lot of stuff out on my own, and then chart out song structures to see how my favorite songs were put together. But it hurt in a way, because so much of old school death metal is from the gut, not the brain, you know? So it was a learning process at first to figure out how to shut my brain off a little and go with my gut more, and not try to make sense of what I was writing from a “schooled” perspective.
MPM: Are there tracks off on Rites Of Gore to be considered favorites from a lyrical standpoint?
SH: My favorite is Till Death Do Us Rot. I love Jeff Walker’s morbid sense of humor he injects into his lyrics for Carcass, and that was my best attempt at channelling that for Sentient Horror.
MPM: What are some past time hobbies you enjoying doing when not performing music live that fans of your band may not know about you?
SH: I like gaming, particularly retro kind of stuff, both actual 8 and 16-bit titles and new games in that style, as well as horror games. I just finished a fantastic game called Blasphemous that is a Castlevania style, and very dark and gorey.
MPM: If Sentient Horror were to create the ultimate dream lineup tour of current bands active in the community whom do you see yourself bringing in the foreseeable future?
SH: Dream tour? I’d love to open for a big name death metal band like Obituary. On a smaller scale, there are so many great bands around right now, its hard to give a specific lineup, but again, opening for a band bigger than us would be ideal. Maybe Gatecreeper or Frozen Soul, I really like both of those bands.
MPM: If music wasn’t your profession, what be your occupation that you see yourself doing?
SH: I have no clue, because it is the only thing I know how to do. Probably still something creative.
MPM: Are there any upcoming releases you’re anticipated in hearing for 2022?
SH: I’m really bad with keeping up with what is on the release schedule, but I’m a big fan of the guitarist Michael Schenker and I know he’s got a new record coming out, so I’m looking forward to that.
MPM: Before we wrap up this interview, I like to thank you for your time into doing this. Any final thoughts or words to the fans reading this?
SH: Thanks for checking us out and we hope you enjoy Rites of Gore! We’ll be playing regional shows in the northeastern US all year, with an appearance at the Into the Darkness Fest on July 30th in Youngstown, OH. The lineup is sick, so don’t miss it! Check it out at http://www.intothedarknessfest.com
Interview by Jake Butler