DRAWN & QUARTERED “Prophets in the Age of Pestilence” 

By Dr. Abner Mality

As I write this, temperatures in Seattle, Washington have been well over 100 degrees for a week. It seems that hell has taken a while to catch up to one of Seattle’s most infamous bands, DRAWN AND QUARTERED!

Talk about grinding it out, that’s exactly what this 3 man death machine has been doing for decades now. They’ve been proudly bearing the banner of classic American death metal in the vein of MORBID ANGEL, IMMOLATION, CANNIBAL CORPSE and more, but doing it in their own particular fashion. The latest assault from the D & Q strike force is entitled “Congregation Pestilence” and it is every bit as foul and demonic as that album title suggests. This is the sort of annihilating quality the band has brought to the table for 30 years!

I dialed up the man who has been leading the DRAWN AND QUARTERED charge from the beginning, guitarist Kelly Shane Kuciemba to let him tell the story of these fiends. Let Hell now unfold…

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings, Kelly! Glad to see DRAWN & QUARTERED back in action. What made this the right time for a new D & Q album?

KELLY SHANE KUCIEMBA: Hails and horns! DRAWN AND QUARTERED has been working on the music for this recording before the previous record ‘The One who Lurks ‘ was released. In early 2017, after completing the ‘.. Lurks’ recording a full-length record was composed, immediately followed by 4 additional songs. These 4 songs were composed for a split or EP. The plan was to record the newest 4 songs, then focus on the full length. I thought it would be a good idea to develop more engineering skills while working on the EP, which would then inform how we produce the full length. DRAWN AND QUARTERED then went on to tour and play festivals and shows all over the world. We produced a live record as well as reissuing some of our back catalog on various formats. Quite a lot happened over the ensuing years. By the end of 2019, we began discussing the logistics of recording new material. The four newest songs seemed like a good place to start. 

After some rehearsals, we were finally able to schedule a recording for the drums. Quite late in the process, we decided to record enough music for a full-length record. Not wanting to break up the full length we had already written and not having the time to work on composing even more new material, we re-recorded our favorite songs from the ‘Proliferation of Disease’ demo from a few years earlier. Since we had been performing these songs live for years, it was great to work on these familiar songs along with the 4 newest. We began recording the drums just days before the Pandemic shut down the world. We eventually were able to complete the record in mid-2020. The lyrical themes for the new material were conceived near the end of the process. The artwork for the record came last, and manufacturing the products and establishing a release date were the final steps towards releasing “Congregation Pestilence” The right time to release a new album for us is as soon as possible. Everything takes time, usually more than you would expect. 

WC: What is it that keeps the death metal fire burning in you? It is certainly not easy doing traditional DM in this day and age?

KSK: We love what we do. This band is an honor and a privilege to be a part of. We are free to create and produce our art however we choose. Death Metal requires a degree of physicality that one would want to maintain. Although we have accomplished many things we set out to do, there are always new goals to pursue and more levels to conquer. We respect the challenges of what we do and appreciate what we have accomplished, but we’re not satisfied. We haven’t achieved the level of success we are capable of. We are driven to overcome this reality and do it on our terms and hungry to reach new milestones. Nothing worth doing is easy. It is even more challenging when anyone can create and release a record. To stand out amongst the masses motivates us even more. 

WC: Was there ever a point where you were ready to call it a day for D & Q?

KSK: Not seriously, no. Every conceivable notion will cross your mind at some point. When a longtime band member leaves, you are forced to make critical decisions that shape the future of the project. At the moment, we feel like we could continue doing this as long we can. Things can change in an instant. Sacrifices are required, and the challenge of creating a life conducive to continuing doing underground music for 3 decades is numerous. 

WC: What made Krucyator Productions the right label for you?

KSK: We have established a mutual respect and cooperation with Loic and KRUCYATOR. Loic is a key member of our organization and contributes immensely to the process as a music producer and mentor. We are pleased to be part of something with unlimited potential, and our agreement allows us to maintain ownership of our music 

WC: The cover art on “Congregation Pestilence” is phenomenal. What’s the story behind this masterpiece? 

KSK: We are very fortunate and happy to have maintained a long-term relationship and cooperation with Gabriel T. Byrne, who has created many pieces of artwork for DRAWN AND QUARTERED. Gabriel has produced artwork for all 8 of our full-length studio recordings. Inspired by our lyrical themes, the artist is allowed a lot of room to interpret and express ideas and techniques while painting. The cover art of ‘Congregation Pestilence’ reflects the themes and ideas presented on the record.

WC: The term “pestilence” has an ironic meaning in the Covid age. Did the pandemic influence any of the ideas on the new album?

KSK: Certainly, our themes will reflect what is happening in our lives; current events played a part in the artwork and title track. These are the same topics we’ve done since the beginning, so it all comes full circle. 

WC: The lyrical subjects on the new album are tried and true death metal ideas like zombies, devils, war and murder. Is there any sort of deeper idea underlying the lyrics?

KSK: Yes, there are usually more to our lyrics than what might appear to be obvious. We want the listener to interpret the ideas for themselves. We use analogies frequently; in other cases, we paint a very clear picture within the text.

WC: Herb Burke is one of the most underrated vocalists in death metal. Tell us about your relationship with him and his approach to singing.

KSK: We appreciate the fact that people outside of our immediate circle might express an idea that some aspects of the band are underrated. We don’t feel that way. We continue to strive for excellence and finding areas and ways to improve what we do. We continue to develop our musical abilities and believe we will receive the recognition and opportunities we have earned. Our relationship is a partnership of mutual respect and appreciation. We couldn’t be happier, having an opportunity to do what we’ve always wanted to do. We do other bands and projects as well that allow us to work continuously, using the experience and skills to create the best DRAWN AND QUARTERED records we possibly can. Herb is a Metal Maniac and contributes all lot of ideas that help shape the final product. His knowledge and love of pure Metal in a variety of forms are critical to the process. Herb is great at interpreting my musical ideas and contributing ideas that help form the structures if the songs. He is very thoughtful with the vocal pattern arrangements and placement. A longtime band member is more than a friend or brother. It isn’t easy to find musical collaborators that want to do exactly what you have in mind. This band would not exist without Herb Burke, and I don’t think I would continue this band without him.

WC: DRAWN & QUARTERED is contemporary with great names like INCANTATION and IMMOLATION, but doesn’t get the same level of recognition. Is it luck, geography of where you’re located or some other factor responsible for this? In my mind, you are certainly up there with the best there is.

KSK: It is always an honor to be mentioned among the greats. We were actively kicking around music ideas and had a few experiences in other bands, but we got started quite a bit after those bands and hundreds of others we took inspiration from. Our timing was not ideal. We recorded most of our early catalog for much less than what it cost to make one record from those bands, so to have these comparisons is a testament to the work we put in. We have never been on a label that had the kind of resources to support a touring band, so we’ve done only a few tours in these years compared to those bands that have played all over many times. Certainly, luck and geography play a part. We have opportunities in front of us; it’s up to us to create something that connects with enough people to facilitate the level of recognition we know this band is capable of. We will strive to manifest the results we want with hard work and consistency.

WC: How does the band create? Are you the “general” that calls the shots or is it more of a democratic process?

KSK: We have approached creating in many ways. I have at various times brought more or less complete song structures, titles and written lyrics. We have also manifested music out of thin air, collaborating in the rehearsal room. When we first started, we would construct the song structures and practice them from memory over and over, improving or refining the ideas as needed. We also have used rehearsal recordings and demos to develop ideas. We always have a whiteboard now, so we can make notes and adjustments on the fly and provide visual cues to speed up the process. Sometimes I will create a click track demo we use a guide to learn songs for writing and recording. Sometimes we can create a song out of a few rough ideas and make a recording immediately. I have a vision for what I want to do and come up with a lot of riffs, but I don’t call all the shots, I can’t do this myself. I rely on what Simon is able to do as the drummer bringing me up almost instantly to his level to be able to perform the song structures, and Herb does a masterful job with vocal placement, lyrics, Bass guitar support. 

WC: Is there a musical influence on you that would surprise people or that they wouldn’t expect?

KSK: I’m a melodic player, so classical music influences me. I also appreciate pop sensibilities and the BEATLES were a big part of my early music appreciation. I have a lot of classic rock influences. Then on to BLACK SABBATH, but that’s more apparent. 

WC: Is your other project PLAGUE BEARER still operating? If so, what plans are there for it?

KSK: In 2017, I was able to revive PLAGUE BEARER for a local festival appearance. The idea was to perform live songs from our collective recordings, including songs we had from our days performing as WINDS OF PESTILENCE from 2004-2008. I was also able to release 2 compilation CDs of our demos and EPs. We started recording a full-length record, but weren’t entirely satisfied with the drum production.  We then spent a good deal of time practicing the songs to click tracks, which had not been used on those songs previously. It took much longer to get it all together than we could have imagined, but we’re almost done finalizing a mix for the very first full-length PLAGUE BEARER record.
WC: Now that the grip of Covid seems to be easing a bit, is there any live work in your future?

KSK: We aren’t planning on doing anything with DRAWN AND QUARTERED yet. We actually have some recordings in the works. We will be performing a local outdoor festival in July as PLAGUE BEARER. 

WC: If you could ask any 3 people from history to dinner, who would they be?

KSK: Jimi Hendrix, Cliff Burton and Tony Iommi. 

WC: Has there ever been a “Spinal Tap” moment in D & Q’s history where things went crazy that you could share with us?

KSK: Probably. At the moment, I can remember being on one of the tours and meeting up with John McEntee filling in on rhythm guitar and them having a free night and surprise headlining a show with us CEPHALIC CARNAGE and VILE; that was awesome!!

WC: Any last words for the faithful?

KSK: We appreciate the dedicated METAL MANIACS that have supported and encouraged us up to this point; THANK YOU ALL!! We are sincerely grateful and looking forward to performing around the world as soon as it makes sense to do so!! HAILS!!