At the time of writing this, I don’t know where Remorse are from, I don’t know when they formed, I don’t know even who they are. What I do know that they are an oppressively harsh sludge group that offers a blackened, noisy approach to the kind of metal played by bands like Dystopia, Grief, and Eyehategod. It’s a intense sound, one that feeds into paranoia and anxiety (this is a positive, mind you), but is also fiery and cathartic, biting at anyone dumb enough to get close to it. There’s some subtle melodies hidden underneath but, that’s not what you or I are here for, we’re here for the distorted noise and pummeling, industrial percussion, as well as the dissonant, murky guitar and bass tones.
But, other than sound and mission statement (“Think about your faults. Remorse is entirely antifascist and intersectional feminist”), I know very little about the project and, because I’m either a curious writer or a nosey prick (take your pick), I’m very eager to get a hold of them and ask a few questions. I’m also very eager to spread the word about their record, Inward, as it’s a hell of an introduction to the world of sludge metal. It’s very obviously a labor of hatred to the evils and prejudices of mankind, the kind of which that’s made to suck your soul out of your body as you headbang along.
I had an opportunity to chat with Remorse, a one man band about the current state of metal, some of the man behind the music’s favorite literature, the reason for Remorse’s existence, and more:
Sean: First off, thank you for accepting my request for an interview.
Remorse: Thank you for requesting one.
Sean: Your Bandcamp information is sparse, is that intentional? If not, who are you all? What brought you together as a band?
Remorse: It’s somewhat intentional. I (Remorse) am one man from Massachusetts. I currently don’t have any plans to reveal more about myself, or establish a more thorough presence online. However, that will most likely change when my future release(s) come out and I start thinking about touring, with or without other people.
Sean: Inward is very much an angry record, one that’s definitely got something to say. What’s the goal of Remorse, as a group?
Remorse: Remorse equally serves to both celebrate my enjoyment of unrelenting, harsh, oppressively-heavy metal and as a cathartic outlet for my struggle with suicidal depression. Thankfully that struggle is largely behind me after decades of work, support, and medicine, but I still have nostalgic bursts of negative thoughts that I prefer to channel into somewhat-industrial noise-infused blackened sludge metal. I’ve found that this aggression can be constructively-focused against intolerant groups that I believe are in need of readjustment. That aspect leads into the goal—other than the creation of art for mutual enjoyment in my community—of integrating of my socio-political beliefs.
Sean: You mention intersectional feminism and antifascism on Bandcamp, how do these beliefs manifest themselves in your music?
Remorse: Fascists, chauvinists, and their sympathizers, hold the same pathetic traits that my mental illness lead me to falsely believe about myself. They idolize things they’ve never truly experienced or properly analyzed. They avoid the internal confrontation necessary for self-growth by redirecting that energy onto unnecessary victims. They are needlessly judgemental and closed-minded through their inability to feel alternate perspectives. They are overtly callous and unloyal to their supporters and loved ones. They live solely to preserve themselves and the things they immediately understand and benefit from. Their deepest motives and mantras are fueled by vague feelings rather than tangible thoughts.
Reactionaries are dirt. My music criticizes how they willingly build weapons and cages around their hearts; cages that their lineages have gladly built for centuries, as it’s easier than taking the chance of trusting and becoming vulnerable to others.
Everytime I scream vitriol, I’m actually repurposing my previous suicidal thoughts against those who truly deserve them: those who I thought myself to be like.
Sean: Music is obviously very important in most people’s lives, what first got you into music? Who are your biggest influences?
Remorse: I’ve been enamored with music for as long as I can remember. My parents weren’t very musical, but the rest of my family’s musical spirit proved resilient. I somehow grew up weird rock like Primus and They Might Be Giants, trip-hop like RJD2 and Beck, and a random assortment of other people’s’ tastes. I branched out into experimental electronic when I was young, started playing in jazz ensembles which exposed me to more adventurous harmony, got deep into metal (Noothgrush-deep) in high school, and fell into world music, folk, and plenty of other stuff in college.
For Remorse, my influences are the suffocating riffs of Primitive Man, the high energy doom grooves of Secret Cutter, the morbidly abrasive vocals of Indian, the putrid industrial production of Gnaw Their Tongues, and the unrelenting pacing of Harsh Noise Wall music.
Sean: Do you have any pieces of literature that have influenced your work in a significant manner? If not are there any that have just touched you on a personal level?
Remorse: No particular literature or fiction media specifically influences Remorse and or any other projects of mine. Most that I feel are touching usually give me insight into facts of life. It may not be my favorite, but the Korean graphic novel Bad Friends by Ancco greatly contextualized my understanding of my own life, and is probably a more relevant book for this conversation.
Sean: What’s the hardest part of making a record, in your opinion?
Remorse: Writing it.
Sean: Do you play live? If so, what’s your favorite part about the live environment? If not, why not? Do you plan on playing live in the future?
Remorse: Remorse is not yet a live project, as I’ve mentioned this is a solo project. My current idea for a live show is greatly influenced by the one-man blackened sludge artist Crawl from Texas, whose work I definitely recommend. I wouldn’t mind having pre-recorded guitar tracks output from Re-Amplifier boxes that fed into stereo guitar and bass amplifier rigs beside me, while I play the drums live and scream into a microphone fixed to my head with a mask. I believe it’s a long, long time before I can manifest my vision for Remorse in a physical space, but I am definitely still active and working on new things.
Sean: How do you feel about the current state of the metal scene? Any critiques or acclaims?
Remorse: We are flushing the cancers from our veins, slowly but surely. I don’t think there’s anything we need other than more marginalized voices making good heavy music. Those I’m in opposition of know what I’d say to them, and those I cooperate with know I appreciate them.
The global underground is continuing to blossom. Forward thinking bands like Altarage, Northless, and Yellow Eyes are cropping up every day. I know my music is more just enjoyable for the sake of intensity rather than including quality songwriting like the artists I just mentioned, and the well-written metal is truly what I cherish more, but I still love and encourage artists channeling constructive aggression in ways that are engaging.
I just hope to see less social sectarianism, especially with regards to genre elitism.
Sean: To finish this off, I’m going to send you a few songs that Remorse reminds me of and I want your opinions on them:
Remorse: I’m very thankful you compared me to Dystopia. I praise their fundamental contributions to the first real dark sludge movement, alongside other 90’s groups like Grief and Corrupted. They wear the hardcore-punk influence of sludge on their sleeves much more than I, but that’s no obstacle to my enjoyment. The bare, unbridled desperation in the opening vocal really resonates with me, and their drum grooves are just funky enough to keep hooked in, unlike the effect funeral doom can have those who don’t appreciate it. They don’t have the sharp minor tonality or dissonance that many artists, like myself, are borrowing from black metal nowadays, but that’s never a requirement for morose impact. I’m happy to see people keeping these classics alive.
Sean: My point of comparison mostly came from that unbridled aggression, especially in the vocals, that you mentioned. Definitely an amazing track from a genre defining EP.
Remorse: Yes! Boston’s finest, who I mentioned earlier. I believe The Obelisk blog described them as “the band that taught sludge how to hate.” I may not entirely agree they were the first to reach this level of darkness and aggression, but I definitely see where they were coming from. A key element in how they craft their uncompromising sound is never deviating from the rhythmic subdivision. The drummer keeps churning out those slow quarter notes, and any fills or ornamental guitar licks walk along the triplets established in the beginning. They show that a regular metal band’s climax is their normal state, as they never let up from the smotheringly slow pacing of their riffs but you can always sense the underlying groove to feel its forward tension rather than losing momentum by having the space in between hits felt as pauses.
Sean: Grief definitely knew how to bring the sludge back in the day, Come to Grief deserves quite a bit of praise and then some.
Remorse: Wow, my favorite Bongripper record, and probably the one that cemented their current status. This track is a great example of something that I, like many doom fans, are obsessed with, which is the minor-second interval. Just one fret up from your home-chord sounds like the end-times, and the same goes for suspending melody notes one fret up above other notes within a chord. It’s the little shred of dissonance that reminds a lot of people of middle eastern freygish and phrygian modes that sound grandiose or psychedelic, but when utilized properly it can be a gateway into some of the nastiest riffs. Bongripper definitely have a more traditional sense of groove which wins over a lot of people, and the hypnotizing constant-weight of their songs is a further expansion of the formal rhythmic property I described with Grief earlier. I may not have the infectious riffs that borrow from the blues influence of more conventional doom; I traded clarity of momentum for burning hopelessness. This probably one of their most dynamic tracks, especially with those blastbeats. I’m quite flattered at these comparisons.
Sean: Satan Worshipping Doom is one of those special albums that depicts a hellscape in an extremely vivid way. Bongripper really got the atmosphere down as far as I’m concerned.
Thank you for your time.
Remorse: Thank you.
Make sure to check out Inward!