Heavy Metal and the Global Pandemic is a new series that focuses on examining how metal bands are dealing with the COVID-19 world. Heavy Metal is unique as a genre for often writing songs steeped in dystopian imagery, the darker side of the human condition, and of course – death. However, these are unprecedented times for everyone, including musicians with an inclination for relishing chaos.
Comprised of Paul Johnson (guitar), Neal Stein (guitar), Cam Dewald (bass), Matt Johnson (drums), and Karl Schmidt (vocals), Fargo, North Dakota’s death/grind dealers Gorgatron having been wrecking eardrums since 2005. With two full-length albums under their belt, the band is poised to release Pathogenic Automation on August 28th.
From the press release:
Anchored in the old-school stylings of death and thrash, the nine-track Pathogenic Automation was recorded by the band, mixed and mastered by Gorgatron guitarist Neal Stein (El Supremo, Egypt), and spews forth a forty-one minute maelstrom of sonic brutality punctuated by a variety of introspective themes.
Earlier this month, the band released a lyric video for the single, “Insurmountable,” via Decibel Magazine. A blistering track that highlights the many talents of the band, “Insurmountable” promises that the new album is certainly not for the faint of heart. According Schmidt, “I write a lot of lyrics about cybernetic organisms. This tune is about a person who puts his brain into a robot to escape his crippling existential doubt. Somehow, he finds solace in mechanization.”
We asked bassist Cam Dewald how the COVID pandemic has impacted the band and how he’s coping with this strange new world.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your band, be it cancelled tours or studio time?
Cam Dewald: Well, we were on track to do a small run supporting Origin, Beneath The Massacre, and Defeated Sanity, plus a few more unannounced tours in support of our new album. However, that didn’t happen, so we’ve had to improvise with a live stream, starting a band podcast, and a few live appearances in states that are still doing live events. We’re definitely looking forward to getting back on the road eventually and hopefully all of us never take live entertainment for granted again.
Where are you sheltering in place and what are your circumstances? Are you alone or with family? How are you coping?
Cam Dewald: In Fargo, North Dakota. I’m with my girlfriend, cats, and band mates, so nothings different…I’m fine, I picked a hell of a year to start a business, luckily at the start of the lockdown I went and put a bid in at the local courthouse for renovations; therefore, I would have a “government contract” and stay open.
How are the members of your band staying connected?
Cam Dewald: We still have practice two-three times a week, plus we party/cookout once a week. Neal and I jam in a fuzzy, doom rock type band called El Supremo, so we’re still alive and kickin’.
Concepts of “virus” and “pandemic” are no strangers to heavy metal lyrics and imagery. Is it strange that we’re now living in such a world? Also, have the current circumstances provided any inspiration for writing new material?
Cam Dewald: Our new album, Pathogenic Automation, is literally a death metal commentary of our current state of affairs, and we wrote the album between 2017-2019, the world owes us some royalties.
The absence of live music is no doubt affecting the audiences and communities who thrive on the experience of seeing bands perform. But, as performers, what’s it like for you not knowing when you will be able to return to the stage?
Cam Dewald: Well, as I said above, we’ve done a pro-shot/recorded live stream, started a band podcast, and played a show. So, we’re carefully testing the waters of playing live where and when we can.
Music provides solace for many in times of hardship. What have you been listening to in these strange and uncertain times?
Cam Dewald: I’ve been listening to the same bands since I was a kid, it’s all over the place as far as genres are considered. To name a few and as a recommendation, I’d say ANTiSEEN, Malevolent Creation, Carnivore, 96 Bitter Being/cKy, Fireball Ministry, Motörhead, Vile, Pfunk, Viking Skull, and Megadeth.
You can follow Gorgatron on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Their albums, Torturetorium and Inner Supremacy, are available via Bandcamp. Pre-Order Pathogenic Automation via the band’s official website.