The Artisan Era recently announced the upcoming July 13th release of Mordant Rapture’s debut EP, The Abnegation. The Abnegation is a five-song whirlwind of symphonic and blackened technical death metal influenced by the grandiose nature of film scores and also by groups such as Spawn of Possession, Emperor, Necrophagist, and Dissection. Active since 2013, The Abnegation will be the group’s first release, due in part to Mordant Rapture laboring for years writing and re-inventing themselves until satisfied with songs they considered top-notch.
How did you first get into music? Who or what turned you onto metal?
Kent: I remember going to a friend’s house–I was just starting middle school so I was like 11yrs old–where he showed me Metallica and Megadeth. I loved the aggression and catchiness of their stuff, but it wasn’t until about 8th grade that another friend turned me onto Rammstein and Nine Inch Nails, which blew my mind. Around the beginning of high school I befriended some metal heads and we got into Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. I was completely converted from then on, looking for darker and heavier stuff that led me down the path towards death metal and beyond.
Rod: Firstly thank you for the interest and interview, I think like many of us I started with Megadeth, Metallica, Black Sabbath but I will always remember me coming home from a trip to Mexico with my first guitar in hand and having my cousin play Crystal Mountain by Death on that classical, and from then on I was hooked. My brother had Cannibal Corpses’ “Vile” album and I went through that a couple times, then delved into more black metal and by then I was lost to the genre. The perfect storm.
Ben: As far as influences to metal I grew up during the big boom of new, excuse me, NÜ metal. I got into Korn in 4th grade, thats when issues came out and falling away from me was the gateway. I remember thinking “Here to stay” by Korn was the peak of heavy, and it won’t ever be topped. Then Slipknot came along with “Iowa.” I eventually got an electric guitar one year and started learning songs by ear and I just kept going deeper down the rabbit hole as I got older and eventually found my way to death and black metal. Spawn of possession ruined a lot of bands for me, in a good way of coarse.
What got you started playing music and how old were you?
Ben: This makes question makes me feel old haha. I actually got introduced to guitar completely by chance. In 6th grade I didn’t fill out my elective form and was put into a mariachi class, and that’s really the first time I picked up a guitar.
Kent: The father of the kid who showed me Metallica was a hobbyist musician that had guitars, synths, and a decent computer–things I didn’t have access to at the time–so I went over to his house almost everyday to learn guitar and to try laying down some song ideas. By my 14th birthday, my parents were sick of me begging for a guitar so they bought me a Fender Stratocaster that I still own to this day.
Rod: Emperor, Dissection, Cradle of Filth (don’t care what anyone says they’re still sick) Dimmu Borgir, these among others are what inspired me to want to make music. I believe I was 12 or 13.
How did the band form and how did the band name come about?
Ben: It actually all started with Byron Leon, currently in Enigma (amazing band). He asked me to join a project he had started with David Arnold (awesome drummer). David was involved in another project with Kent at the time called “Octoclops”. From there David and I began writing material and Kent originally joined in on bass and we had Ryan Mcnatt (also now in Enigma) on second guitar. The material was much different back then, actually it sounded nothing like current Mordant Rapture. As time went on Byron and Ryan formed Enigma, David moved out of the country, Kent, Myself, and our previous vocalist Richard Slate decided to push forward and continue creating. The sound continued to grow and change as we wrote more and more. Rodrigo originally joined on bass and eventually replaced Richard on vocals after Richard had to step back from the project. Then the three us decided to write all new material to put together this EP. The song that kinda was the turning point for us direction-wise is “Natal trophies,” the closer of the ep. It’s the oldest song but that was the turning point for us to push forward with the symphonic tech death sound. In the pre production phase, our recording engineer Cody Funtes (Rapture Recordings) got us in touch with Josh Miller to record the drums for this EP.
Kent: In short, Mordant Rapture implies that the intense pleasures people pursue or hope to experience, whether in this life or beyond, is hopelessly circumstantial, laughably ephemeral, and ultimately just a cruel joke.
What was your local scene like in the beginning, was there a particular band you aspired to be like, favorite local bands back then, favorite local bands now?
Kent: The local metal scene in San Jose has always struggled to really coalesce into something substantial, which might be why I’ve been in so many projects in completely different genres. But I had felt the calling of Black Metal and Death Metal for so many years, so joining MR gave me the chance to write and play what I really wanted. But within the first year of forming, we were playing shows with an almost completely different lineup and a more chaotic grind/tech style with no symphonic stuff, so we’ve come a long way in refining our sound. One of my favorite local acts that we played with a few times back then was called Behold the Desecration, not just I go way back with my boys Kevin Wilson and Brian Mojica (the former working on solo material and the latter currently in Wolf King), but because these guys had sick songs and killed it on stage. As of right now some of my favorite local acts are Enigma, Aethere, Arcane Existence, Crepuscle, Symbiotic, Cold Claw. These guys and gals work extremely hard to turn their creativity to fruition. The level of dedication and passion I’ve seen from the members in these bands is really something I admire and I can’t wait to share the stage with all of them.
Rod: I was a late addition to the game within the Bay Area scene due to me being a transplant from Salinas but I quickly befriended many around here and the scene in the South Bay is such melting pot of amazing musicians they ultimately inspire us to be better.
How did you become a vocalist or drummer? Are you proficient in any other instruments?
Rod: For me coming from a city with very little extreme metal sorta forced me to pick up any instrument I could get my hands on. Early in my youth I had a two piece band where I played drums and sang at the same time while writing lyrics and guitars with a buddy of mine, it wasn’t so much a choice to be a vocalist but rather a matter of circumstance where I needed to fill that role. I also mess around with synthesizers here n there.
What makes a good Mordant Rapture song?
Kent: We can’t usually tell when the song is going to be really good until we import the midi information containing the orchestral stuff into realistic-sounding VSTs and then jam the riffs over the backing tracks. If the intended effect on our ears is immediately present sonically and compositionally, we push on and on until the full “skeleton” of the whole song is done so that Rod can start composing the lyrical element and trying out vocal arrangements, all of which are integral to fleshing out and rewriting sections. The bottom line is, if the song hasn’t undergone at least 10 versions, it isn’t good enough for us!
Rod: I think it’s finding that balance of trying to jam all of our influences into the track without it being too obvious, subtlety is key but also pushing it beyond our own capabilities, ultimately we write these songs for us and if people think they’re good then that’s awesome.
Who are some of your influences? Who can we hear in your music?
Rod: For me lyrically it’s Danny Filth for sure; The man is a lyrical genius. Ihsahn from Emperor, Helmut of Belphegor, Nergal of Behemoth there are too many to name, all of Black Metal/Death Metal when it comes to the vocals and lyrics. I have to do this music justice.
Kent: Since getting into metal, I have always been drawn to specific sections of songs by Emperor from a compositional standpoint, but I try to incorporate some of my favorite tech riffs by Spawn of Possession, Necrophagist, and Beneath the Massacre while throwing in melodic tremolo-picked melodic lines in the vein of Dimmu’s and Cradle’s older material.
What was the first music you bought, what was the first concert you saw, where was it and with who?
Kent: The first album I bought was “…And Justice for All” by Metallica. The first concert ever for me was Tool. I went to see them at the Event Center in Downtown San Jose, California, with the kid and his dad from which I starting learning how to play music.
Rod: I was fortunate enough to have an older brother that had a huge CD wallet with so much music so it’s hard to pin point the first, but a memorable purchase for me was my sister driving me to Warehouse music where I went to buy headphones but ended up buying “In Defiance Of Existence” by Old Man’s Child and she bought me the headphones since I spent all I had on the cd. It’s the little things. Ozzfest 04’ with the bro, cousin, a few friends–it was awesome! Best lineup ever! Change my mind!
Ben: the First album I ever bought was System of a down’s self titled. Remember Tower Records? Those where the days, I remember being nervous about the parental advisory stickers but the girl with dreads behind the counter thought I looked old enough. Thanks dreadlock girl. The first concert I ever went too was the very first Project Revolution with Korn, Linkin Park and most importantly, Snoop Dogg himself. Me and a big group of friends went, when we got there this dude, no shirt, bad tattoos, 2 good teeth left, we all know this guy he’s at every show, he ran up to the mini van before we could finish spilling out and yelled “ who the fuck wants a shirt??” I asked if he had change and before I could finish he spat “FUUCK YEA I GOT CHANGE”. So I bought my first concert shirt before even getting in. It might just be the touch of nostalgia but I’ve never seen a place fog up faster then when Snoop Dogg got on, and at the time I wasn’t ironically a Snoop fan I was really stoked to see him, not let down at all. Then Korn came on, the mosh started, I made quick friends with some big cholo looking dudes and we wrecked. Super good times.
What can we expect from a live Mordant Rapture show?
Kent: In the words of my friend Sam, we’re gonna “take the bull by the horns…and fuck it.”
Rod: A couple of guys having a lot of fun playing music
Ben: lots of notes and lots of Jagermeister
How would you like to be remembered?
Rod: By our music; I’m a man of few words but I got a lot to say
Kent: As dudes that live and breathe Yngwie Malmsteen’s mantra: “more is more.”
Ben: I want people to say “that dude was hung”. Oh and something something sick band something something.
Do you still buy cd’s and records or mostly use streaming sites? Which sites do you use?
Rod: As of late mostly streaming site iTunes, Apple Music, YouTube.
Kent: I buy digital albums on iTunes cuz I still rock an old school iPod since my current phone doesn’t have a headphone jack. I don’t trust myself not to lose the expensive adapter and I just prefer the sound of my B&O H6 headphones over anything wireless anyways. I sound like a snob…
Ben: I love running down to the record store and buying cd;s still. I still buy albums just for having cool cover art. Or I’ll buy a bands album I’ve heard about and never listened too. I like taking that shot in dark and getting blown away by a new band. Plus I find albums just mean more to me if I physically own it rather then just look at my phone with a picture of the cover on it. I still use streaming sites for on the go but I mostly listen to cd’s still.
Top 5 albums or songs released in the last 12 months and all time?
Rod: Slugdge, Inferi, Møl, Cradle, Ihsahn all released awesome albums in the last year. All Time is really hard to say, “In defiance of Existence” still holds up for me.
Kent: Slugdge, Inferi, Arkhon Infaustus, Rivers of Nihil, and Archspire had some great releases in the last 12 months. Of all time I think “Welkins to the Anthem at Dusk” by Emperor is my #1, followed by (in no particular order) “Epitaph” by Necrophagist, “Spiritual Black Dimensions” by Dimmu Borgir, “Cruelty and the Beast” by Cradle of Filth, “Maree Noire” by Beneath the Massacre, “Incurso” by Spawn of Possession, “Souls to Deny” by Suffocation, “Orthodoxyn” by Arkhon Infaustus
Ben: Inferi’s – Revenant
Artificial Brain’s – Infrared Horizon
Slugdge’s – Esoteric Malacology
Igorrr – Savage Sinusoid
Favorite album of all time is still Spawn of possession’s Incurso, favorite song of all time being Apparition
What does rock n roll mean to you?
Rod: Letting go and being in a state of happiness playing some tunes with the fellas
Kent: That’s the interesting thing about metal: it has it’s roots in “rock n roll” and has its parallels at its core–rebelliousness, rawness, controlled chaos, and its subjection to demonization by more conservative mindsets in society throughout history. However, times change and music seems to fragment and congeal, expand and contract, evolve and devolve all at once. Some of the most technically precise players exist today, and creativity seems to flourish now more than ever, but that is a result of technology, capitalism, and the fact there are more people on this planet showing off and competing with each other than there were say, in the 60s, when those amazing players that blazed the trails for us faced different challenges, and this makes sense when you consider that they are products of such a different time. I still dig the classics like Queen, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix, and others, but it’s kinda hard for me personally to speak on what rock n roll really means in 2018. When it comes to metal, I see it as a “standing on the shoulders of giants” kind of thing; I think we as metal musicians in this day and age have our work cut out for us, and in many ways more so than the “rock gods” of the old days, as it were, but we should never under appreciate their work and their influence. I think any musician today can and should be critical of historical musical roots, but should do so with an openness and with intent to improve his and her craft, to push the genre forward or sideways or both, but never hold it back.
Final thoughts, shout outs, dirty jokes?
Kent: Shout out to Josh Slater and all of Aethere for putting up with the mess we make in the practice studio! Special shout out to Cody Fuentes of Rapture Recordings, as we couldn’t have pulled this EP off without his ingenuity and passion for what he does day after day; another special shout out to Rich Slate III, as one of the OG members of Mordant Rapture, he was there with us through thick and thin and helped lay the foundation for us to build ourselves up as musicians and as a band; Of course, shout out to Malcolm of Inferi and The Artisan Era for giving us the opportunity to unleash hell; finally, thanks to all my friends and family for the massive support throughout my life and have been patiently waiting for this particular release for so long! It’s worth it, I promise!
Ben: Just want to thank anybody that’s taking the time to check us out. There’s a lot of amazingly talented bands out there these days and for anybody thats taking the time out of their day to give us a listen we would like to give the most sincerest thanks to.
Rod: Huge thanks to Malcolm and the rest of the Artisan Era crew for giving us the opportunity every band wishes for in helping us spread our music, but also to all the people on social media for sharing our music they’ve had nothing but the nicest things to say which considering we’re talking about the internet is sort of an anomaly these days so Thank you.