This interview with Succumb complements issue 104‘s The Flenser label profile, pages 106-107.
The Flenser will end the year with their most crushing release, the second album by San Francisco death metallers Succumb. A creeping, crawling and obliteratingly heavy opus which surpasses their self-titled 2017 debut just when we thought they couldn’t get heavier and darker still, XXI made the choice of Flenser band to interview very easy indeed, so José Carlos Santos called guitarist Derek Webster and vocalist Cheri Musrasrik to chat about it.
“To me, death metal should always be about striving to push your creative vision to its absolute limit with each release you put out,” Succumb guitarist Derek offers, and while there might be many definitions of death metal that are valid, this is one of the best, and already goes a long way to explain how this is one of the most exciting acts pushing the genre envelope these days. “With XXI, we wanted to create a more chaotic, harrowing listening experience while streamlining the song structures to make the songs leaner and a lot tighter,” he says about the new album, to which we can only say, well, mission accomplished, dude. The first album already sounded like a world-ending cataclysm, but it turns out that was just Succumb warming up. “I would say that the first one still has a lot of remnants of our demo-era sound,” he says. “Now I’m allowing myself to more freely explore ideas I purposefully suppressed on the debut. Specifically, I wanted to further blend my roots in grindcore and brutal death metal into our sound, so in a way I was unbuckling my belt and letting that brutal gut breathe.” It’s also nice to have a label that allows you some gut space. “We feel very fortunate to be involved in a label that seeks out music that thinks outside of the box,” Derek says. “Considering that we’re the only death metal band on this roster, it’s really cool that they took a chance with us.”
Of course, one of the main highlights in any Succumb album or song is Cheri Musrasrik, a paint-peeling throat demon like few others, so we asked her some mumbled question about lyrics and hid before she started breathing fire or spewing sulphur or something. She’s actually very nice, though. “Thank you for the kind words!” she laughs, after being called a demon. “The record is an exploration of the four elements and their related mythologies. Lilim is about the demon spawn born to Lillith, a being created from the dust and sediment of the earth. Maenad is about the cult of Dionysus and intoxication with a substance that is of the earth. Okeanos is centred on the origin of the gods of water. Smoke refers to the ritual dismemberment and cooking with fire of the body of Dionysus. After reading Frater Achad’s Qabalistic interpretation of Parzival called The Chalice of Ecstasy I wanted to write Graal; a song about a vessel that holds a divine liquid. Aither is about our cosmogony. Soma is about fly agaric mushrooms and their use to enter another realm. 8 Trigrams talks about the Boxer Rebellion an anti-Western, anti-Christian uprising that sought to protect the customs of respecting ancestors and nature deities.” So now you know.