Initially formed in 1986, Arlington, Texas’ Rabid Flesh Eaters have been a staple of the local metal scene ever since. With songs of murder, mayhem, and supernatural horror, the band has made their name known among area fans with their brand of breakneck speed metal and always reliable live performances.
In 2016, they released the full length LP Reign of Terror. An album of dark, punishing Texas thrash, the band proved they were worthy of the accolades typically thrust upon the bands they have so often supported, most commonly on the stage of the Rail Club in Fort Worth. Produced by Rigor Mortis’ legendary guitarist, the late Mike Scaccia, along with Kerry Crafton and guitarist Mike Taylor, Reign of Terror is an album that draws upon the bands 30-plus year history and distills it into nine pummeling songs.
On April 11th, Rabid Flesh Eaters release R.F.E. Not only does it pick up where Reign of Terror left off, but it also puts forward the next step in the bands evolution. Made up of five new songs and three covers of Rigor Mortis classics, the band forges into new territory without losing sight of their roots.
“Vengeance (of Nightmares)” explodes out of the gate to kick off the album. You want Texas thrash, you got it. There’s no easing your way into the album, the band hits you with everything they’ve got right away. “Hallucinations” gives the listener a little breathing room with a mid-tempo intro, but soon enough all hell breaks loose. Bassist John Hill and drummer AJ Tate propel the songs forward as Mike Taylor’s guitar blazes over top. Singer Ricky Wilson growls, screams, and generally spews vitriol, whether he’s narrating a stalker drunk with blood lust or a paranoid schizophrenic wrestling with his demons.
“R.F.E.” is a special track for a number of reasons, chief among them is that it features the final studio performance of Bruce Corbitt (Rigor Mortis, Warbeast) who passed away last year after a fearless and inspiring battle against cancer. Wilson and Corbitt trade-off lines throughout the song, the lyrics which seem perfectly fitting for Corbitt’s legacy. As they sing “crossing our path/a fatal mistake/attacking you all/and bringing you pain,” it’s hard not to raise your fist in the air with enthusiastic solidarity.
“The Fall” starts with an intro that sounds like it could’ve come from a classic horror flick before things go totally berserk. It’s the longest track on the album at more than eight minutes, but it doesn’t feel like a long song, rather the band takes us through several tempo-shifts and time changes that build a dark, cinematic atmosphere. “Demons Within” shows the band approaching things a little differently, that’s to say while it’s not their typical thrash attack in terms of speed, it’s still an ominous and heavy track. Taylor’s solo is a journey of its own as it starts melodically and gradually picks up speed.
Having grown up with the members of Rigor Mortis, it’s no surprise to find the band covering three of their songs. In fact, in the years following the passing of Mike Scaccia, guitarist Mike Taylor played guitar in Wizards of Gore, alongside Rigor Mortis members Casey Orr (bass), Harden Harrison (drums), and Bruce Corbitt (vocals). Plowing through “Die in Pain,” “Welcome to Your Funeral,” and “Contagious Contamination,” the band wears their hearts on their sleeves with these searing covers. They don’t re-invent the songs, but pay homage to the power of the band and their unique blend of metal and macabre. Of course, replicating the Scaccia’s unique style is no easy task, but Taylor has had plenty of practice from his time with Wizards of Gore and admirably pulls off what many would consider a futile task.
We caught up with guitarist Mike Taylor and singer Ricky Wilson to learn about the new album and their brotherhood with the fine gentlemen of Rigor Mortis. Whenever this COVID-19 way of life passes, you can be sure that Rabid Flesh Eaters will be setting stages ablaze across the Dallas-Fort Worth. Until then, you can pre-order R.F.E. and terrorize your neighbors with its wicked and twisted sensibility.
When did y’all start writing the songs for R.F.E?
Mike Taylor: Started writing at the end of 2016 and actually went into the studio for the first few songs in 2017. We started working with a bad ass new drummer, A.J. Tate from New York, and he brought a whole new vibe to the band.
The liner notes just say, “all songs written by Rabid Flesh Eaters,” but who handles the lyrics? Or how do you approach the lyrics as a band?
Ricky Wilson: I usually write the lyrics, mainly.
Mike Taylor: We all throw in our two cents worth, too.
Ricky Wilson: Oh yeah. Let’s see…”Demons Within,” John come up with that. So, he wrote, pretty much, the whole song lyrics and came up with the tempo of the song, how to sing it, and Mike and I came up with the last part of the song. The verses John wrote, the last part of the song, the ending, Mike and I came up with. Just put our heads together one day and we decided there was something needed at the end of that song.
Do the lyrics come after the music has been written or does it go hand-in-hand?
Ricky Wilson: Yeah. Sometimes I’ll come up with shit right at the beginning. A lot of times the songs change and shit.
Mike Taylor: And there’s no set formula, sometimes we’ll have words and we’ll write the music to his words, too. I love doing that.
Ricky Wilson: Right, we’ve done that before, too. Like…let’s see, “Vengeance,” I think some of those lyrics I wrote in the studio, when we was recording.
There’s these five new songs, one featuring Bruce Corbitt (Rigor Mortis/Warbeast), but what made y’all decide to do the three Rigor Mortis covers?
Mike Taylor: Well, we had a few of those songs already in the can and when Bruce passed away, we realized that him passing away was an eye opener and realized that it was time to honor the people that were such a big influence on us.
So, you had already recorded these Rigor songs?
Mike Taylor: Yes.
Just for the hell of it?
Ricky Wilson: Yeah, pretty much.
Mike Taylor: You’ll see it was a different studio involved with each one as well.
Tell me the story behind “R.F.E.” and bringing in Bruce to sing.
Mike Taylor: I played it for him one day.
Ricky Wilson: We did the whole song. We were doing it with me singing it, but we came up with another line at the end of it for Bruce. Changed the last verse just to fit Bruce. Because at the end of the verse, that verse goes, “You know damn well.” I got to put that in there somewhere. So, I changed it. Me and Mike changed the words on it and made it fit in there where he can put that in there.
Mike Taylor: He dug the riff on that one. It’s another one of those stories, just like when I asked Mike Scaccia (Rigor Mortis/Ministry) to produce the last album and he said “Yes.” It was like, “God damn.” But, Bruce dug the song when we had it with no vocals on it. And I was like, “Well, would you want to sing on that?” He’s like, “Yeah.” He was all about it.
Ricky Wilson: Yeah, he did a good job, too. I was really surprised. He come in here, just nailed it.
Mike Taylor: Kicked some ass, yeah.
Ricky Wilson: He is Bruce Corbitt.
When did Bruce do his recording?
Mike Taylor: It was just right before he started really going down hill. I could probably pin a date if I tried to look it up somewhere. We got pictures of that and I think those pictures will have a tag on it with a date. But, Kerry (Crafton) took a few pictures in the studio as well. He was incredible til the end. Even giving Ricky some pointers and tips on how to do certain things in the studio. I was just telling him, “Man, you sure did make this special for us.” And he’s like, “No, you made it special for me.” And I was like, “I think you got this backwards here, man. Thank you. Thank you, thank you.” And he just enjoyed it and said it’d been a long time since he was in the studio and he was looking forward to whatever else he needed to do in the studio.
What tips did he have for you in the studio?
Ricky Wilson: He was just showing me a couple of tricks that he had learned, and I think Phil (Anselmo) showed him in the studio when he was recording with them. So, you can put your hand in a cone and put it up to the microphone and talking into it and gives it a cool effect, like it’s some kind of hollow effect or some shit. One cool thing he did on the song “R.F.E.,” and people probably don’t know, is that sound was him breathing into the microphone, blowing into it.
Let’s talk about the Rigor Mortis songs. Why did you pick these three particular songs?
Mike Taylor: Well, when I was sitting in a some carpet warehouse watching Rigor Mortis write their first songs. The first songs that they wrote were “Welcome To Your Funeral” and “Die In Pain.” So, those songs meant a lot to me and we definitely had to get those out there to honor our brothers. They meant so much to us as far as being an influence on us, and bending us in that direction, that it was high time to honor the spirit of what they were all about.
What about the last song, “Contagious Contamination,” from the Doyle Bright-era of the band?
Mike Taylor: Well, it just so happens that was another song we had in the can from the sessions on the last album and never released it and thought that even though it sounds crazy to have three covers from the same band or influence, I just felt like it’s time to get that out there. So, instead of doing some crazy hidden bonus track or pay extra for a bonus track, we just thought we’d put it all out there and try to do it right.
Definitely go way back with those guys. And I don’t know if it’s unusual to still be friends with people that you went to elementary school with later on in life, but that’s the way it was with those guys and us.
Let’s talk a little bit about the newer songs, the original songs. Was there anything coming off of the last album you wanted to do that was a little different or something you wish you had tried? Any unique things?
Ricky Wilson: Well, we just wanted to do our own thing, come up with something not exactly the same, but a little more exciting, more in depth. Like “Hallucinations,” that song is about paranoid schizophrenia and tripping. And I have a couple of friends that are out there, they influenced the song. One guy’s a paranoid schizophrenic and sometimes he’s fighting demons and shit and he can’t stay in his house by himself because he’s always freaking out. One time I think he woke up in the morning and thought demons were attacking him, so he pulled out his 357 and started shooting through the walls and shit, shooting them.
I had another friend of mine was smoking some of that purple Salvia. He started smoking that and he went into a trip where he wasn’t even there. All I know is I had to manhandle him, set him down. Well, he said that he was inside of this darkness and these walls were coming and closing on him. And he said he turned around and there’s was demons sitting behind him in chairs, with no mouths, just watching him. And he said he thought that was it. He thought he was going to die. As soon as I opened up the door and the cold air hit him, he said that woke him up.
Mike Taylor: I think it’s safe to say there’s a commentary on mental illness there and some of the other songs still touch on our serial killer theme that we carried on, I guess from the last album, and maybe you can talk some more about that.
Ricky Wilson: Right. And we were working on a song called “Serial Killer Rock Star,” which I think is really catchy and that should be on our next album. I think our next album is going to be really catchy. There’s a lot of good hooks in it. I think there’s some really cool stories in it that are pretty interesting. Hopefully people will dig it.
“Demons Within” struck me as not being super thrash-y.
Mike Taylor: Our bass player John wanted to slow that song down and I fought him all the way. I was like, “Man, this is too slow for an R.F.E. song.” I claimed that it was the slowest R.F.E. song ever, but our drummer was like, “This is the fastest I’ve ever played a kick.” So, I guess it balanced out and worked out. But, it’s definitely another song about looking at your demons internally and the way Ricky commented on it, it was one day I’ll find them and they will pay, even if I have to rip them out from the inside.
All these songs are much better on headphones, because there’s a lot of things in the stereo field that are going on. Like on “Demons Within,” I did three guitar solos, a couple of them are left and right hard. And I always thought it was way too melodic for a heavy song like that. But, I tried to make up for it with the solo on the other side going nuts while this one was playing something a little more slow. But, I guess it all worked out into one psycho acoustic soup.
You just released the music video for “Lycanthrope,” a song from 2016’s Reign in Terror. Why is this coming out now?
Mike Taylor: I had to finish paying for it, really, before we could release it. When the guys at Cyclonus Video asked us if we wanted to contribute some music to make a new video, it was right around Mike Scaccia’s birthday and we were really missing Mike and thinking of him. And the one song that came to mind was “Lycanthrope,” because he produced that and he also played on that. So, we thought let’s make this a Mike Scaccia tribute. If you watch the video to the very end, you can see it dedicated to Scaccia thing on there. But, that seemed like the thing to do and that’s what we did.
We’re just releasing it now and I know it’s causing a lot of confusion with people. I guess it’s on us for releasing a new video to an old song and announcing the new album all at the same time. People are getting confused and thinking that Mike played on the new album or that Bruce sang on the old song or something like that. But, Mike did play on that particular song, “Lycanthrope,” and it’s a new video for an old song.
But, then there is also a video coming out for ‘The Fall.” You made it with the same people who did “Lycanthrope?“
Mike Taylor: Yes.
Ricky Wilson: It was shot in Deep Ellum. It was pretty cool.
Mike Taylor: We actually did “The Fall” video first, and then we did the “Lycanthrope” video after that. So “The Fall” is maybe more like a public service announcement to let kids know not to do drugs.
Ricky Wilson: This what could happen if you do this kind of drug.
Mike Taylor: The main character, our hero, happens to do some drugs and starts seeing monsters and zombies and has to kill them all. And by the time he comes down from the drugs, he starts realizing that he was killing innocent people all along and it was the drugs that was clouding his mind.
Not unlike “Lycanthrope,” there’s some serious production involved in this video, not just you guys playing in the garage and a guy filmed it.
Mike Taylor: Yeah. The guys at Cyclonus can do it all and they prefer to do mini horror stories like that. But, they say most of the bands nowadays, that hire them to do videos, just want to do them performing and that’s it. But, being the fans of horror movies that we are, from the old school, once they went that direction I was totally happy. We were excited about it.